Iraqi government spends millions on medical treatment abroad
The coordinator of a consulting firm specializing in providing medical treatment in India announced Nov. 15 on his Facebook page that he was coming to Iraq and provided his phone number so people could contact him and make arrangements for medical treatment. Al-Monitor tried calling on numerous occasions, but no one answered.
In the midst of a medical crisis forcing Iraqis to travel to various countries, most frequently India, to receive treatment, Iraqis have lost faith in the country’s medical services, which they see as lacking adequate technologies and thus proper care. They are therefore seeking treatment abroad in neighboring countries, including Jordan, Iran and Turkey. Indian hospitals, however, are the big winners in the competition to woo patients, due to their lower cost, followed by facilities in eastern European countries.
Although Iraqis have valid reasons for seeking treatment abroad, the sector providing it is full of corruption, most notably favoritism. An administrator at Hilla General Teaching Hospital who requested anonymity told Al-Monitor, “Doctors have received financial compensation in exchange for granting patients reports indicating their need for treatment abroad, despite the fact that their medical condition did not require it.”
According to the administrator, “Private offices calling themselves treatment-abroad consulting firms have established extensive networks with specialists and private and state hospitals to amass profits at the expense of the truth.”
Young Mou’mil al-Khafaji from Babylon published a picture of himself on Facebook and asked his friends to “pray for his recovery from ‘kidney failure,’” which Iraqi doctors diagnosed him as having. His father, Makki al-Khafaji, told Al-Monitor in a phone interview, “It was not my intention to travel to India for medical treatment, but social pressures drove me to seek confirmation of [my son’s] condition and forced me to pursue treatment abroad. The process was easy. Dozens of people traveled there before me and supplied me with the names of consulting firms and translators. [They] find patients for foreign hospitals, which they actively promote.”