Protesters chant slogans demanding better public services and jobs during a protest in Basra, 340 miles (550 km) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
Protesters chant slogans demanding jobs and better public services in Basra, Iraq, in August 2018. AP

Basra health crisis: 17,000 admitted to hospitals for water poisoning



Basra's health authorities said on Wednesday that more than 17,000 people have been admitted to hospitals over illnesses contracted from polluted drinking water.

There has been a surge in illnesses blamed on the lack of clean drinking water in the southern oil-rich provinceResidents and politicians say it is a symptom of the breakdown in public services caused by corruption and years of neglect by the central government in Baghdad.

"Over 17,000 patients have been admitted to local hospitals – 2,600 are suffering from diarrhoea and the rest are suffering from issues related to stomach pains," Alaa Hashim, Basra's Heath Ministry spokesman, told The National.

He said most people were treated and dispatched within hours.

"The quality of water in some areas is very poor, some areas in the province do not have access to clean water; no one can drink the water, not even animals," Mr Hashim said.

He said the ministry conducted water tests which found evidence of chemicals, ruling out any bacterial infections.

Waleed Kettan, the head of Basra's provincial council, is warning of a "catastrophic" health crisis, as hospitals in the province struggle to cope with the high number of patients.

"We have prepared [a] report that will explain the catastrophic health situation which is threatening many lives. The cases of poisoning are being recorded due to the poor quality of water," Mr Kettan.

If the central government did not take steps to eliminate the crisis, it would lead to a "disastrous catastrophe", he said.

For the past month-and-a-half, residents of the southern oil province have protested against the municipality's poor financial management, after it failed to provide adequate public services. Some say this is entrenched in corruption.

_____________

Read more:

Abadi sacks Iraq's electricity minister after protests

Basra governor wants oil firms to build water plants

Iraq protests persist with government slow to offer solutions

_____________

The demonstrations have resulted in the deaths of several civilians, prompting Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi's caretaker government to release funds to improve water supply, electricity and health services.

But residents say they have seen no improvements.

"We don't have any clean water at home, the hospitals are flooded with patients, some are even unable to get the treatment they need, as not enough beds are available," Azhar Al Rubaie, a Basra resident, told The National.

"I have seen patients being treated outside, on the streets by nurses and doctors," Mr Al Rubaie said.

In response, Mr Al Abadi on Monday urged local authorities to address the issue and to ensure that sufficient water was delivered to the city.

The region also has chronic power cuts, a stagnant economy, widespread corruption, chronic unemployment and an agriculture sector devastated by drought.

Basra Governor Assad Al Edani said last Saturday that the province was not receiving its fair share of state funding to address problems, even though its port accounts for more than 90 per cent of Iraq's oil export revenues.

"Since I assumed office last year, Basra hasn’t received any money from the central government,” he said.

Mr Al Edani said oil companies must set up water desalination plants for residents if they wanted to continue operating there.

"The federal government must address this issue, otherwise we will take all necessary measures to protect our people in Basra," Mr Al Edani said.

"Every major oil company that is working in the province has to set up a desalination and sterilisation treatment plant if it wishes to continue working."

He said an agreement had been reached with the director of Basra Oil Company, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, to ensure oil companies abide by the condition.

Lack of transparency and unreliable governance has been at the heart of Iraq’s woes, made worse by the effects of a costly three-year war against ISIS that coincided with a dip in oil prices.

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

AGL AWARDS

Golden Ball - best Emirati player: Khalfan Mubarak (Al Jazira)
Golden Ball - best foreign player: Igor Coronado (Sharjah)
Golden Glove - best goalkeeper: Adel Al Hosani (Sharjah)
Best Coach - the leader: Abdulaziz Al Anbari (Sharjah)
Fans' Player of the Year: Driss Fetouhi (Dibba)
Golden Boy - best young player: Ali Saleh (Al Wasl)
Best Fans of the Year: Sharjah
Goal of the Year: Michael Ortega (Baniyas)

MATCH INFO

Barcelona 2
Suarez (10'), Messi (52')

Real Madrid 2
Ronaldo (14'), Bale (72')

Top tips

Create and maintain a strong bond between yourself and your child, through sensitivity, responsiveness, touch, talk and play. “The bond you have with your kids is the blueprint for the relationships they will have later on in life,” says Dr Sarah Rasmi, a psychologist.
Set a good example. Practise what you preach, so if you want to raise kind children, they need to see you being kind and hear you explaining to them what kindness is. So, “narrate your behaviour”.
Praise the positive rather than focusing on the negative. Catch them when they’re being good and acknowledge it.
Show empathy towards your child’s needs as well as your own. Take care of yourself so that you can be calm, loving and respectful, rather than angry and frustrated.
Be open to communication, goal-setting and problem-solving, says Dr Thoraiya Kanafani. “It is important to recognise that there is a fine line between positive parenting and becoming parents who overanalyse their children and provide more emotional context than what is in the child’s emotional development to understand.”

Company profile

Name: Steppi

Founders: Joe Franklin and Milos Savic

Launched: February 2020

Size: 10,000 users by the end of July and a goal of 200,000 users by the end of the year

Employees: Five

Based: Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai

Financing stage: Two seed rounds – the first sourced from angel investors and the founders' personal savings

Second round raised Dh720,000 from silent investors in June this year

Gully Boy

Director: Zoya Akhtar
Producer: Excel Entertainment & Tiger Baby
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Siddhant Chaturvedi​​​​​​​
Rating: 4/5 stars

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

MATCH INFO

Real Madrid 2 (Benzema 13', Kroos 28')
Barcelona 1 (Mingueza 60')

Red card: Casemiro (Real Madrid)

Company profile

Name: Maly Tech
Started: 2023
Founder: Mo Ibrahim
Based: Dubai International Financial Centre
Sector: FinTech
Funds raised: $1.6 million
Current number of staff: 15
Investment stage: Pre-seed, planning first seed round
Investors: GCC-based angel investors

Naga

Director: Meshal Al Jaser

Starring: Adwa Bader, Yazeed Almajyul, Khalid Bin Shaddad

Rating: 4/5

Seven tips from Emirates NBD

1. Never respond to e-mails, calls or messages asking for account, card or internet banking details

2. Never store a card PIN (personal identification number) in your mobile or in your wallet

3. Ensure online shopping websites are secure and verified before providing card details

4. Change passwords periodically as a precautionary measure

5. Never share authentication data such as passwords, card PINs and OTPs  (one-time passwords) with third parties

6. Track bank notifications regarding transaction discrepancies

7. Report lost or stolen debit and credit cards immediately

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

Company Profile

Name: Raha
Started: 2022
Based: Kuwait/Saudi
Industry: Tech Logistics
Funding: $14 million
Investors: Soor Capital, eWTP Arabia Capital, Aujan Enterprises, Nox Management, Cedar Mundi Ventures
Number of employees: 166

SERIE A FIXTURES

Saturday

AC Milan v Sampdoria (2.30pm kick-off UAE)

Atalanta v Udinese (5pm)

Benevento v Parma (5pm)

Cagliari v Hellas Verona (5pm)

Genoa v Fiorentina (5pm)

Lazio v Spezia (5pm)

Napoli v Crotone (5pm)

Sassuolo v Roma (5pm)

Torino v Juventus (8pm)

Bologna v Inter Milan (10.45pm)