There are many well-trained Iraqi physicians; however, their effectiveness is limited by a lack of trained nursing and paramedical staff. Between 1985 and 95, 93% of the population had access to health care services. Private hospitals are allowed to operate in Baghdad and other major cities. Considerable effort has been made to expand medical facilities to small towns and more remote areas of the country, but these efforts have been hampered by a lack of transportation and a desire of medical personnel to live and work in Baghdad and the major cities. In 2000, 85% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 79% had adequate sanitation. Dentists and other specialists are almost unknown in rural districts. Child nutrition has been negatively affected by the aftermath of the Gulf War and UN sanctions. In a study of Iraqi children shortly after the war, 24% were malnourished or classified as stunted and 8% were in the wasted category. The UN Children's Fund has documented that 4,500 children under five die every month from hunger and disease. UN officials also estimate that the international trade embargo and the relative indifference of the regime cause the premature deaths of 4,000 to 5,000 sick and old Iraqis each month.
In 1991, Iraq had 10,900 physicians, 13,206 nurses, 1,719 pharmacists, and 1,628 dentists. As of 1999, there were an estimated 0.5 physicians and 1.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people. Iraq's 2002 birth rate was estimated at 34 per 1,000 people. Of married women (ages 15 to 49), 14% used contraception in 1989. Life expectancy in 2000 averaged 61 years. The fertility rate decreased from 7.2 in 1960 to 4.3 children in 2000 for each woman during childbearing years. In 1997, immunization rates for children up to one year old were: tuberculosis, 90%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 92%; and measles, 98%. In 1999, there were 156 reported cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people. The infant mortality rate in 2000 was 93 per 1,000 live births, and the general mortality rate was estimated at 6 per 1,000 people in 2002. As of 1999 the prevalence of HIV was less than 0.01 per 100 adults.
Tobacco consumption remained static between 1984 and 1994, when 3.1 kg (6.8 lbs) a year was consumed per adult.