Berliner Boersenzeitung - Covid rages in Iraq as vaccinations lag

EUR -
AED 3.931468
AFN 75.621904
ALL 100.232524
AMD 414.61044
ANG 1.925048
AOA 914.603793
ARS 967.444661
AUD 1.602121
AWG 1.926679
AZN 1.793207
BAM 1.955849
BBD 2.156654
BDT 125.50316
BGN 1.95818
BHD 0.40301
BIF 3071.377339
BMD 1.070377
BND 1.447136
BOB 7.380186
BRL 5.814392
BSD 1.068127
BTN 89.193746
BWP 14.395362
BYN 3.495488
BYR 20979.388273
BZD 2.152954
CAD 1.466363
CDF 3050.574705
CHF 0.95639
CLF 0.036076
CLP 995.458066
CNY 7.772325
CNH 7.803519
COP 4456.312213
CRC 558.314059
CUC 1.070377
CUP 28.364989
CVE 110.267777
CZK 24.956054
DJF 190.174789
DKK 7.465234
DOP 63.041587
DZD 143.800621
EGP 51.014285
ERN 16.055654
ETB 61.631252
FJD 2.400588
FKP 0.83982
GBP 0.845914
GEL 3.002431
GGP 0.83982
GHS 16.182407
GIP 0.83982
GMD 72.517963
GNF 9195.231541
GTQ 8.288209
GYD 223.335624
HKD 8.355758
HNL 26.420665
HRK 7.512374
HTG 141.573565
HUF 396.820498
IDR 17637.189757
ILS 4.020421
IMP 0.83982
INR 89.443856
IQD 1399.235234
IRR 45049.48867
ISK 149.210638
JEP 0.83982
JMD 166.344189
JOD 0.758579
JPY 171.059619
KES 138.323483
KGS 92.864518
KHR 4403.110873
KMF 492.962081
KPW 963.339398
KRW 1487.170913
KWD 0.328338
KYD 0.890122
KZT 497.142518
LAK 23479.59123
LBP 95649.608514
LKR 326.158213
LRD 207.325221
LSL 19.119881
LTL 3.160544
LVL 0.64746
LYD 5.17813
MAD 10.637568
MDL 19.119481
MGA 4836.121776
MKD 61.53655
MMK 3476.54259
MNT 3692.800591
MOP 8.584816
MRU 42.062059
MUR 50.136335
MVR 16.479822
MWK 1851.946633
MXN 19.386127
MYR 5.044696
MZN 68.177702
NAD 19.119881
NGN 1592.720909
NIO 39.32099
NOK 11.313713
NPR 142.709594
NZD 1.749354
OMR 0.41161
PAB 1.068127
PEN 4.064802
PGK 4.166105
PHP 63.012851
PKR 297.46989
PLN 4.328741
PYG 8040.202457
QAR 3.895698
RON 4.979929
RSD 117.058448
RUB 94.352376
RWF 1402.435314
SAR 4.017427
SBD 9.049443
SCR 15.713194
SDG 643.296452
SEK 11.248838
SGD 1.450578
SHP 1.352368
SLE 24.455226
SLL 22445.271562
SOS 610.415371
SRD 32.964335
STD 22154.641839
SVC 9.346235
SYP 2689.354661
SZL 19.111481
THB 39.288185
TJS 11.354086
TMT 3.757023
TND 3.349284
TOP 2.525822
TRY 35.149734
TTD 7.248183
TWD 34.653079
TZS 2803.770601
UAH 43.202688
UGX 4005.100851
USD 1.070377
UYU 42.071059
UZS 13500.339947
VEF 3877496.742894
VES 38.884607
VND 27246.445332
VUV 127.077266
WST 2.997714
XAF 655.973518
XAG 0.036234
XAU 0.000461
XCD 2.892747
XDR 0.81062
XOF 655.973518
XPF 119.331742
YER 267.968757
ZAR 19.231104
ZMK 9634.673406
ZMW 27.210685
ZWL 344.660942
  • RBGPF

    0.0000

    56.5

    0%

  • NGG

    -0.7200

    57.13

    -1.26%

  • SCS

    1.1100

    13.29

    +8.35%

  • CMSC

    -0.0107

    24.44

    -0.04%

  • GSK

    -0.2800

    40.48

    -0.69%

  • RIO

    -0.5200

    66.4

    -0.78%

  • RELX

    -0.0500

    45.6

    -0.11%

  • RYCEF

    -0.1000

    6.03

    -1.66%

  • BTI

    0.2000

    31.7

    +0.63%

  • VOD

    -0.0400

    9.05

    -0.44%

  • CMSD

    -0.0700

    24.17

    -0.29%

  • BCE

    -0.1900

    32.6

    -0.58%

  • BP

    -0.2000

    35.51

    -0.56%

  • AZN

    0.3200

    78.88

    +0.41%

  • BCC

    -0.3100

    122.41

    -0.25%

  • JRI

    -0.0300

    12

    -0.25%

Covid rages in Iraq as vaccinations lag
Covid rages in Iraq as vaccinations lag

Covid rages in Iraq as vaccinations lag

In the stores and buses of Iraq masks are rare even as Covid-19 spreads widely, vaccines are viewed with suspicion and the sick see hospitals as a last resort.

Text size:

At Al-Shifaa Hospital in the capital Baghdad, the ramifications are clear.

"More than 95 percent of those sick with Covid-19 in intensive care are unvaccinated," said Ali Abdel Hussein Kazem, assistant director of the facility.

Half of the 40 intensive care beds are occupied in the department, where irregular beeping from monitors and IV machines is constantly heard.

Al-Shifaa hospital has been turned into a Covid treatment centre since the start of the pandemic and can treat 175 patients.

Linked to breathing devices, an old man and a young woman share a large room, where a family member is allowed to monitor them -- masked and in a white protective outfit.

Next door, a man in his 60s fidgets, pushing away his blanket. An asthmatic, he is also hooked up to a ventilator.

"He says he is suffocating," an alarmed relative said, summoning a doctor.

Iraq's public health system, already worn down by decades of war, under-investment and corruption, has struggled to cope with the coronavirus.

Since January, Iraq's 40 million people have been confronted with a fourth coronavirus wave but -- unlike other countries -- the government has not imposed any restrictions.

Iraq has recorded more than 2.2 million infections and 24,000 deaths since the pandemic began two years ago, but data released by the authorities indicates that infections are now declining to around 2,000 new cases per day.

Despite 1,400 vaccination centres, officials struggle to overcome scepticism about the jabs, which health experts around the world say are saving lives.

- Help from abroad -

Fewer than 10 million people in Iraq, about a quarter of the population, have been vaccinated, said health ministry spokesman Seif al-Badr.

Among them, not even seven million have received two doses, and those with a booster number less than 100,000.

In neighbouring Iran, 66 percent of the 83-million population have received two doses.

"About 90 percent of the sick are older than 60," said Al-Shifaa's intensive care director Mohammed Salih, as he made his morning rounds, checking X-rays and giving instructions.

"Most have chronic conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease," Salih said, accompanied by doctors and nurses from Doctors Without Borders (MSF), a charity which is assisting the hospital.

Along with training that aims to "sustain the care", the MSF programme begun in November provides physiotherapy and mental health care, said Daniel Uche, a physician who heads the project.

Countering misinformation is another priority.

"Most of the pregnant women we admitted in our facility are not vaccinated because they are afraid for their precious babies, that maybe if they take the vaccine it will have an effect" on the infant, said Uche.

Salih said he noticed another trend: "Most of the patients come in only after reaching a critical stage."

They prefer to stay at home because of "social media" and "rumours" which minimise the gravity of the coronavirus or which raise suspicions about the vaccines, he added.

Those are the latest challenges for a health system crippled by decades of war and especially an international embargo under the dictator Saddam Hussein, who was toppled in a US-led 2003 invasion.

"People are afraid of hospital because of rumours that say they won't get proper care, and that we won't be interested in looking after them," a nurse said, requesting anonymity.

Two deadly fires at public hospital Covid-19 units last year sparked outrage among the population. One blaze killed more than 80 people in Baghdad in April and three months later another claimed at least 60 lives in Nasiriyah, southern Iraq.

- 'Be careful' -

Authorities acknowledge that challenges abound for a sector dealing with ageing equipment and shortages.

Badr, the ministry spokesman, said the health infrastructure in some provinces "was entirely destroyed" in the war against the Islamic State group jihadists from 2014-2017.

The health budget of the oil-rich country does not even receive two percent of state expenditures.

"For previous governments health care was not a priority," said Badr, adding that even though the system is challenged it is ready to help those who are sick with Covid-19.

"We have thousands of beds available for people who would have breathing difficulties. We also have medicine and the necessary equipment, as well as vaccines," he said.

At Al-Shifaa, Farouk Naoum, 75, is leaving hospital after his recovery. He was among the minority of Iraqis vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine but despite the protection it offered, he still got infected.

"You have to be careful, very careful," he said after his 31 days of treatment.

(H.Schneide--BBZ)