The World Health Organisation (WHO) is considering giving Baghdad hospitals between US $3,000 and $5,000 each per month to cover operational costs, food for patients and travel expenses for health staff.
In the absence of a health ministry which would normally pay such costs, it was "vital" to take them over temporarily, Fadela Chaib, a WHO spokeswoman, told IRIN on Friday. She added that health staff, who had not been paid since the start of the Iraqi war over four weeks ago, were now working on a voluntary basis, and some could not even afford the bus fare to get to work.
"They [the hospitals] are complaining about a lack of cash, not manpower or infrastructure," she said. "They only have small amounts of food left."
WHO was appealing to donors to find the money for these running costs, Chaib said, but would consider using its existing funding in the absence of a response. Last month, $389 million had been requested by WHO for the Iraqi health sector, but only about $13 million had been received to date, she added.
The funding would be given to Baghdad's hospitals, numbering about 45, and then hopefully be extended to the rest of the country's health facilities. WHO was also looking at the possibility of paying small daily allowances to health workers for a three-month period, Chaib said, which would facilitate their work.
It would cost about $20 million per month to cover the country's 1,447 medical facilities and 1,285 health centres, she noted.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions