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Cancer services are suffering in Iraq

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7177.203 (Published 16 January 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:203
  1. Karol Sikora, chief
  1. WHO Cancer Programme, and professor of international cancer medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine, London

    The Iraqi health minister, Dr Omeed Mubarak, recently asked the World Health Organisation to review the problem of cancer services in Iraq and suggest how things could be improved.

    It was immediately clear that there were staggering deficiencies in cancer treatment facilities because of the United Nations sanctions, which are intended to exclude food and medicines. A cancer centre without a single analgesic; a radiotherapy unit where each patient needs one hour under the machine because the radiation source is so old; and children dying of curable cancers because drugs run out are all accepted as normal.

    We as doctors cannot stand idly by and watch this slow, silent tragedy drag on

    Iraq has a population of 20million. The cancer registry is good in some parts of the country and there are an estimated 50 000 new patients …

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