US project to rebuild health system has run out of money

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The Independent US

A plan to build 142 health clinics in Iraq has run out of money with only 20 of the centres completed.

The contract, awarded to the US company Parsons, was intended to restore Iraq's healthcare system, once considered the best in the region. Instead the contractor will walk away having completed just 15 per cent of the planned construction, unless emergency funding can be found.

Naeema al-Gasseer, the World Health Organisation's representative for Iraq, told The Washington Post it was a "shocking" state of affairs. "We're not sending the right message."

The US Agency for International Development says that in Iraq "diarrhoea, measles, respiratory infections and malaria - compounded by malnutrition affecting 30 per cent of children under five - contribute to excessive rates of infant and child mortality". Child malnutrition has doubled since the invasion, according to Jean Ziegler, the UN Human Rights Commission's expert on the "right to food", and now stands at around 7.7 per cent.

Brigadier General William McCoy, the US Army commander with control over reconstruction projects in Iraq, said emergency funds were being sought for the clinics from the US military and foreign donors.