New hospital as a sign of hope

The new Cap Anamur hospital is the showpiece of Sebbe Q’Sour, the Shiite municipality northeast of Baghdad. Local dignitaries proudly guide visitors through the tiled rooms. The new, white building is not only the very first regular medical facility in the history of the city, but also a sign of hope for its 50,000 inhabitants –  a sign, that a peaceful future for them and for the whole of Iraq will come.

Every day up to 400 patients line up at the hospital’s gate to seek treatment from the seven doctors who moved from the temporary health post to the new building in early August. “The road to the capital has become increasingly dangerous”, says Dr. Adnan, head of our hospital. “For that reason alone, being able to treat the patients here on site is a blessing.”

The neighboring regions of Sadr City are still a long way from peace: the thuds from American combat helicopters and figher jets targeting alleged terrorist hideouts can be heard as far as Sebbe Q’Sour. In many cases, however, the victims of the strikes are women and children – and as a result, even initially moderate groups take up arms against the hated occupying forces. In addition, violence is escalating between rival militias.

Time and time again our health post in Al Hamidia was completely cut off: “It is  impossible to reach our colleagues, because of the constant shootings everywhere,” says Dr. Adnan. As a result, the supply of important medicines and medical disposables for the 11,000 inhabitants is often cut off for weeks.

In the current climate of uncertainty not much progress is seen in the reconstruction of the country: a Japanese construction company was in charge of building a water supply infrastructure in the poor parts of the city. But so far one has only seen a flow of money, millions of dollars, but flowing water is still missing. A few rusty pipes are the only reminder of the promises of the interim administration appointed by the Americans.

At first, the US troops were widely respected by most Shiites for defeating Saddam Hussein, but since then they have lost their credibility in Sebbe Q’Sour. The plan to hold democratic elections within the next three months is already deemed to have failed. “I don’t need a piece of paper with names of politicians,” summarizes a young man the mood, “I need money to put food on the table.” But in the current situation this seems like a distant dream: the unemployment rate stands at 80 percent.