Iraqis demand accountability after tragic hospital fire
The death of 92 people in a hospital fire in southern Iraq on Tuesday is another tragic reminder of the intolerable level of mismanagement, corruption and apathy in the country’s bureaucracy. An even graver tragedy would be if the Al Hussein hospital disaster were forgotten – just as the similar April fire at a Baghdad hospital was swept under the carpet of corruption. The tragedy must lead to a total reform of the Iraqi state system.
The blaze, which is believed to be caused by a power outage that led to an explosion of an oxygen tank at a coronavirus treatment facility, is under investigation, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi said at the time. that he ordered the arrest of the administrators of the hospital. He did the same after the fire that destroyed Ibn Al Khatib hospital in Baghdad three months ago, killing at least 72 people. So far, the probe has given nothing.
The Iraqis say they don’t need more of these investigative committees to reveal the real cause of these recurring tragedies. They know the real culprit and demand to account – this is the system that allows sectarian and tribal loyalties to rule over the structure of the state, including the health care system.
Their feelings are shared by President Barham Saleh, who took to Twitter to warn of further disasters if the real evil in Iraq is not cured. “The disaster at Al Hussein hospital, and before that at Ibn Al Khatib hospital in Baghdad, was the product of persistent corruption and mismanagement that underestimated the lives of Iraqis and prevented reforms . A strict review of the performance of institutions and the protection of citizens is necessary, ”he wrote.
For years, several parliamentary committees have called for an investigation into corruption in the Ministry of Health, as well as in other ministries, since 2003, when the American invasion overthrew the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein. To date, none of these vital entities have been seriously investigated, costing the country not only billions of dollars, but above all thousands of precious lives.
Al Kadhimi, who came to power last year with a pledge to fight corruption and lawlessness, also said the catastrophic fire was the result of the incompetence of corrupt officials, stressing the need for “a comprehensive administrative reform process within the Ministry of Health “.
The Prime Minister certainly realizes that reforms must lead to strict accountability, especially in an area vital to people’s lives like the Ministry of Health. For years corrupt officials literally got away with it. It is time for state authority and its laws to be enforced. This is what the bereaved Iraqis called for when they buried their loved ones.