- Man pulled from water believed to be disgraced D.C. cop
- Kabul airport hit by suicide bomber who targeted NATO gate
- European probe on course for a landing on a comet
- New budget accord saves $23 billion — after $65 billion spending spree
- Congress seeks ban on in-flight calls
- Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy site sold to owners of Townhall, HotAir: report
- GM’s Barra to be first woman to run top American carmaker
- China: Poisonous smog is a military asset, if you think about it
- Texas woman admits to sending ricin to Obama
- Ron Paul on son Rand: ‘I think he probably will’ run for president
Sick, elderly Iraqis living on edge
The narrow, gloomy room is no place for a grandmother to live. But Noura Jassem Mohammed, who at 71 stays here without a toilet or running water, has no choice. She has run out of relatives willing to care for her.
Widowed four years ago, Mrs. Mohammed no longer can make ends meet on her husband’s modest pension, so she must beg from neighbors, friends and distant relatives. She uses a neighbor’s bathroom and is too poor to afford all her blood pressure and heart medicine.
“The day my husband died was the worst day of my life,” said Mrs. Mohammed, wiping away tears with the hem of her long black robe, known as an abaya. “I’ve had nothing but problems since.”
Investment in health and geriatric care suffered under Saddam Hussein, who steered government revenues to the security forces and his own pockets even as the country labored under more than a decade of harsh international sanctions.
Already teetering when Saddam was ousted in 2003, Iraq’s health care system has had no chance to recover in the face of a violent insurgency, the collapse of basic services and the weakness of the new central government.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Iraq, potentially among the richest countries in the region, has fallen behind peer nations such as Egypt and Jordan on basic health indicators. Per capita spending on health care in Iraq is $23 a year, less than half that in Egypt and one-seventh of the figure for Jordan.
Traditionally dependent upon relatives and extended family to care for them, Baghdad’s elderly are being abandoned in greater numbers as relatives flee the violence and chaos of Iraq, government officials said.
“The elderly in Iraq have been dealt a very bad hand and short of a miracle very little can be done to help them,” said Dr. Akif Alousi, a physician and representative of the Iraqi Medical Association. “Sometimes they just close the door of the house and wait to die slowly.”
The most vulnerable senior citizens are in frail health with little or no income and cannot live independently. Many have no children to support them or have never married.
Adding to their misery, Iraq’s devastated health care system makes it nearly impossible for Baghdad’s elderly residents to receive adequate medical treatment. The lack of potable water and electricity here further threatens their welfare during the sweltering summer months.
Demographers at WHO said 2.8 percent of Iraq’s 28 million people were 65 and older in 2005, the most recent year for which figures were available. By contrast, 12.6 percent of the U.S. population and 17 percent in Japan are 65 or older.
For Iraqis like 87-year-old Mariam Ansari, who have beaten the odds and endured, self-preservation these days is a daily struggle.
Mrs. Ansari lives in a single room with cement walls. A fluorescent light illuminates a twin bed and a patchwork of threadbare Persian rugs covering a dirt floor. The room, provided by a neighbor as charity, is among the many donations from the community on which Mrs. Ansari depends to meet her basic needs.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- New budget accord saves $23B -- after $65B spending spree
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- EDITORIAL: The shake that shook the world
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
- GOV'T MOTORS: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $15 billion loss for taxpayers
- Obama shakes hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Helping the YOUniverse conspire on your behalf.
A column dedicated to discussing politics, national security, civil liberties, and education.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
The “Silver Tsunami” created by aging Baby Boomers is hitting America. Let’s explore how we adjust to it, enjoy it and defy negative expectations about age.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow