Baby Ali Dies in Iraq
20 June, 2004
three-month old Iraqi baby who prompted an outpouring of sympathy around
the world after he was photographed lying emaciated in an undersupplied
Iraqi hospital has died, doctors said Saturday.
Ali Mohammed Jabbar
- affectionately known as Baby Ali - died of septicemia, a bacterial
blood infection easily treated if more advanced medical care had been
available, said Dr. Haidar Hadi of Baghdad's General Teaching Hospital
``The chance of
survival would have been much, much higher if he were in a European
hospital,'' Hadi said. ``He most probably would have survived.''
Baby Ali's suffering
illustrated the plight of Iraq's children, who are still lacking proper
medical care after more than a year of U.S. military occupation.
The hospital where
Baby Ali was treated had no proper equipment to take blood and stool
samples needed to pinpoint the type of diarrhea which afflicted him.
Without that precision, doctors were unable to prescribe the right antibiotics
``We feel so sorry
to lose a patient for something considered in an ideal situation, a
simple disease,'' Hadi said.
Even if they had
the diagnosis, such medicine is rarely available here for someone so
young and so small. When Ali arrived at the hospital in mid-May, he
weighed 7.72 pounds.
Ali died on June
8, according to hospital records.
A June 4 story by
The Associated Press - accompanied by photographs - detailed the dismal
condition of the hospital, which lacks some of the most rudimentary
medical supplies, and the plight of baby Ali. The story drew a huge
response, particularly in Germany, where pharmacies offered to send
medicine to the hospital and people said they were willing to help Ali
get medical treatment in Europe.
But Iraq's chaotic
security situation complicates the organization of such efforts, which
take time and coordination with overwhelmed local authorities. With
so many in need and so few resources available, helping a single child
is not always possible, doctors said.
Even the best intentions
often fail. Most hospital deaths - between 15 and 20 a month - are from
secondary infection, mainly because of the unsanitary hospital conditions.
``We don't have
antibiotics to treat infections,'' Hadi said. ``We have really many,
many problems. We are working in situations no one can imagine.''
Doctors said the
hospital had been visited by many good-intentioned groups that wrote
down lists of needed medicine and supplies. But that's as far as things
have gone so far.
``All these children
need help,'' said David Tarantino, a coalition medical adviser to the
Iraqi Health Ministry as he pointed to a pile of files. ``If not treated,
they will die.''