The New York Times covers the disturbing state of the Ibn Rushid hospital, one of only two psychiatric hospitals in Baghdad that serves the entire population of 6 million.
The article is equally moving and disturbing as it describes how the local citizens are suffering the effects of war with little available assistance while the doctors resort to desperate measures to try and help.
The hospital’s fortunes have changed markedly during the occupation. Apparently in decline since the days of Saddam Hussein, a 2004 Psychiatric News article described how it had been refurbished after being looted by armed men shortly after the beginning of the war.
It now seems that a sharp decline is in progress once more as medication is increasingly scarce and ECT is being given on faulty equipment without anaesthetic or muscle relaxants.
One aspect of Iraq’s mental health system which has been consistently reported since the occupation is the fact that many Iraqi psychiatrists have left the country owing to violence and kidnapping that has targeted doctors.
Both major Baghdad hospital have been sacked by armed looters and have been affected by nearby fighting.
The NYT article is accompanied by a photo essay that documents a day in the life of the Ibn Rushid hospital.