Iraq Tackles Health Care Reform

By Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi Ministry of Health is engaged in a study regarding the possibility of enacting a health care law, which is supposed to be the cornerstone of Iraq's plan to improve the level of health services provided by medical institutions and to provide a new source of funding.

Iraq allocates an estimated $5 billion annually to cover the needs of the health sector, whose infrastructure is limited.

The ministry said it formed three specialized committees that are working on putting in place the primary structure for a health care draft law in the country, before it is debated by the legislative institution.

Ministry spokesman Ziad Tariq said that the first committee is charged with studying the health systems of various countries, and looking at how Iraq's draft law could benefit from their experiences. The second committee is studying the Iraqi health system and identifying its major needs, while the third committee is dealing with financial matters related to the application of this law.

The chairperson of the Health Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, Liqaa al-Yassin, said that over the past few years the Ministry of Health has only been able to spend about half of its share in Iraq's budget. She asks: "What is the point in legislating a new law that is basically aimed at acquiring additional financial returns?"

In Iraq, the process for any new legislation begins with the ministry or the executive party that is drafting a law. It is then sent to the state's Shura Council, which is responsible for determining legal validity. It is then forwarded to the Council of Ministers to be discussed and ratified. Finally, it is referred to the Council of Representatives for approval or rejection.

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