After the latest fire, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered the dismissal of a hospital director and the provincial health chief. A provincial court issued warrants for their arrests.
Saadi al-Majed, a consulting surgeon who was appointed the new provincial health chief after the fire, said all of the dead were either patients or their relatives who were caring for them. All of the patients in the ward were receiving oxygen, and many were unable to move when the blaze broke out.
Dr. al-Majed, who has been brought in twice before to head the health directorate during crises, said his first task was to try to stop enraged relatives from attacking the hospitals and health care centers.
“They are fighting with us,” he said in an empty office at the new al-Nasiriya Teaching Hospital across town from the hospital that caught fire. “They attack some of our staff. So the first thing was to calm the situation as much as we can.”
Despite a decade of construction, the al-Nasiriya hospital still had not opened until the past week. It is the province’s first new public general hospital in 40 years.