Regional Report - Iraq
Calling all Iraqi doctors
The Iraqi Health Ministry has
set up a committee to contact
medical doctors who have fled
the country, and persuade
them to return, a senior health
official said on 3 August.
“We have e-mailed all the
physicians who fled Iraq because
of the deteriorated security situation,
[asking them] to return,
and develop the health service,
after remarkable progress in the
security situation,” Deputy
Health Minister Essam Namiq
Abdullah told IRIN in
“The Ministry went through
an acute situation as a result of
the dearth of senior physicians…
but now most doctors
have expressed a readiness to
return to their institutions and
resume work,” he said.
Abdullah said the ministry
had devised incentives to
encourage those who had fled
to return to work, including
help with travel costs and
increased salaries. He did not
In an exclusive interview
with Middle East Health
(published in the May-June
2008 issue) Dr Adel
Abdullah, the inspectorgeneral
for the Iraqi Ministry
of Health, said the ministry
had developed an incentive
package to attract doctors
back to Iraq.
“This year (2008) we have
increased doctors’ salaries by
100% and nurses by 50%,” he
“We are also going to make
an extra payment in addition
to the normal, regulation
payment. Doctors with a
subspecialty will benefit from
the new payment structure –
which is a basic payment plus a
payment per procedure.”
The Ministry was also planning
to build housing for
doctors inside Baghdad’s
Medical City, a compound in
central Baghdad which houses
the Health Ministry, Medical
College, key hospitals and
According to Essam
Abdullah, over 165 doctors
had resumed work in the past
20 days (prior to 3 August),
and he expected that more
than 90% of those who had
fled would return this year.
Dr Adel Abdullah told
Middle East Health around 8,000
doctors fled Iraq since the 2003
US-led invasion. According to IRIN some 618 medical
employees had been killed,
including 132 physicians.
The Health Ministry had
been funding hospitals in neighbouring countries to treat
those patients it had not been
able to treat in Iraq, Essam
Abdullah said. More than
1,400 patients had been sent to
Syria, Iran, Jordan and India
since June 2007, mainly for
cardiac and eye surgery, and
the ministry was studying
about 7,500 other patient files.
“Since the beginning of this
year, we have managed to overcome
about 50% of the problems
we faced in the past,” Essam Abdullah said.
Too early to return?
Up to now, the ministry’s
incentives have not been sufficient
to lure Jamal Ajil, who
fled to Jordan in 2006, to
return to Baghdad. But he still
wants to return.
“It is still too early to go
back,” Ajil told IRIN in an emailed
response. “We all agree
that there is an improvement
in the security situation, but
this thing is still fragile,” Ajil
“And the most important
thing is the difficulties one
would have leaving Iraq a
second time if the security situation
worsened again, because
of the difficulty of getting Iraqi
exit visas… I would prefer to
stay until early next year and
see,” Ajil said.
● Read the interview with Dr
Adel Abdulla – Resuscitating
Iraq’s healthcare – online at:
Crackdown on illegal medicines
Iraq’s Health Ministry is leading a crackdown
on expired and illegally imported medicines
which have flooded the Iraqi market since the
US-led invasion in 2003, a senior health official
said mid August, according to IRIN.
“The Ministry is leading a huge project to
monitor the mechanism of importing medicines
to Iraq, after we found that about 70% of the
drugs in Iraqi markets have either been imported
illegally or have expired,” said Adil Muhsin, the
Health Ministry’s inspector-general.
About 100 samples of imported medicines
were tested recently by the ministry; some were
found to be unfit for consumption as they
contained poisonous substances, Muhsin said.
“Some of these medicines cannot even be used
in their countries of origin as they are only
manufactured for Iraq,” Muhsin told IRIN.
“We’ve formed a committee, with representatives
from the ministries of the interior, defence and national security, to hunt down
unregistered pharmacies and street vendors [of
medicines],” he said.
Muhsin said the expired medicines can cause
serious illnesses to those who take them,
including stomach and intestinal illnesses,
internal bleeding or kidney failure.
Muhsin blamed corruption at the Iraqi
border for the availability of the medicines,
saying the government had now designated
only six border points through which medicines
can be imported.
“There will be specialist teams with modern
equipment at these border points to check all
medicines and we plan to put an end to this
phenomenon by 1 September,” he said.
Muhsin said Iraqi security forces had confiscated
“tonnes” of medicines of unknown origin
during a military operation in August in Diyala
Province, northeast of Baghdad.
of upload: 29th September 2008