The World Health Organization said the situation in Baghdad continued to cause major concern. The Central Public Health Laboratory had been looted and incubators containing polio virus cultures had been stolen, spokesperson Melanie Zipperer said. Hospitals reported to be functioning to some extent included the Medical City complex, Yarmouk, Kadhimiya and No’man. WHO staff would continue to visit major hospitals in order to prioritize and rapidly meet the most urgent needs, she added.
“We have made contact with WHO staff in Baghdad and the information they have provided is bleak,” Ms. Zipperer said. The WHO Baghdad office had been very badly looted and burnt, all official vehicles had been stolen and much valuable equipment and information destroyed.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), meanwhile, reported an outbreak of blackwater fever in southern Iraq. The waterborne disease, also know as laeshmaniasis, leads to severe debility and eventually death if not treated within four to six weeks. Spokesman Geoffrey Keele stressed the urgency of getting medicines into the affected area.
He said the Iraqi Refugee Aid Council had reported 100 cases in Amarah, 70 in Nasiriya, and an unspecified number in Az Zubair. Children under five were the most vulnerable to contracting the disease, he added.