Regional Report - Iraq
Mixed reaction to government
allowing doctors to carry guns
There has been a mixed reaction in
Iraq to a government decision to allow doctors to
carry guns for their own protection, reports IRIN news.
“This decision implies the security situation is still unstable and that
doctors are still in
danger,” said Dr Mohammed Khalil Ali, a 33-year old gynaecologist and
obstetrician who moved to the more peaceful semi-autonomous northern
Kurdistan region earlier this year.
“Carrying weapons is not the solution as the possessor must be
well-trained. It could… prompt a vicious attack from the assailant,” Dr
Ali told IRIN from Arbil, one of three
provinces that make up the Kurdish region.
On 29 September, the Iraqi Government decided to allow every doctor to
carry a gun for personal protection, and approved the construction of
secure residential compounds inside and around hospitals to ensure
security for doctors and their families.
Dozens of doctors have been killed and thousands of others have fled the
country since the US-led invasion in 2003.
Dr Ali warned that doctors with weapons could lead to “security chaos”,
saying it was the job of the security forces to ensure law and order.
However, Dr Essam Jaafar Hassan, a 36-year-old dermatologist at
City, gave a cautious welcome to the move.
“Though belated, I welcome [the move] but I can’t imagine carrying a
pistol,” said Dr
Hassan, adding: “At least we will have something with which to defend
In August the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) set up a committee to look
into ways and means of persuading doctors to return to the country,
including assistance with travel costs and increased salaries. Some 800
doctors have returned, according to MoH figures
released in September. The flight of thousands of doctors either to
northern Iraq or neighbouring countries has left the medical care system
almost paralysed, said observers.
Earlier this year the ministry said 618 medical employees, including 132
doctors, had been
killed since 2003.
Cholera outbreak infects
number of confirmed cases of cholera in southern and central
Iraq has been rising steadily in an outbreak that began on 20
August. As of 5 October some 418 cases had been reported with
“We’ve registered 418 cholera cases in 10 provinces so far:
Babil 222 cases, Baghdad 71, Basra 44, Karbala 34, Qadissiyah
30, Anbar seven, Najaf five, Maysan three, and Diyala and Kut
one case each,” Ihsan Jaafar, director-general of the public
health directorate and spokesman for the ministry's cholera
control unit, told IRIN news.
He said that of the newly registered cases 228 were males and
190 females; in 159 cases the patients’ ages were 5-70, with all
other cases being among the under fives.
About 25km to the west of Qadissiyah’s capital, Diwaniyah,
residents of al-Kafi village (population 4,000), where one of
the most recent deaths occurred, complained about poor public
infrastructure and health services and called for immediate
“Municipality and health services are not available and we
totally depend on the river to get our drinking water. The
river, which we share with animals, has caused about 20 cholera
cases in our village,” said Sheik Jawad Kadhim Diwan, a tribal
“We call upon the government and the presidential council to
save the lives of these people by supplying us with safe
drinking water, and to start infrastructure projects as a matter
of urgency,” Diwan added.
The Iraqi Health Ministry and the World Health Organization have
blamed the country’s rundown water and sanitation infrastructure
for the outbreak.
of upload: 16th November 2008