Maliki Prioritises Health Care

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.

Last week, despite the major political crises that have been ongoing for several months now due to protests against his policies by his opponents, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seemed to show interest in the issue of health care services in the country, stressing the importance of advancing these services.

Over the past week, Maliki stressed twice the need to expedite the completion of the construction of 10 hospitals in various Iraqi provinces, each including 400 beds. Even though construction was supposed to be completed by the end of the year, a number of these projects have been delayed.

According to a governmental statement received by Al-Monitor, in a meeting held at the end of last week with a number of senior officials from the Ministry of Health at Maliki’s office, the latter gave them a one-year time limit to complete the construction of these 10 hospitals, asserting that he will hold all defaulting parties accountable.

It is worth mentioning that Iraq allocates an estimated $5 billion annually to cover the needs of the health care sector, the infrastructure of which is obsolete.

In this respect, the chairman of the Health Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, Liqaa al-Yassin, indicated to Al-Monitor that the state allocates around 5% of its budget to the health care sector, adding that the Ministry of Health only spends around 55% of its share in Iraq's budget.

Yassin clarified that the current Iraqi infrastructure in public and private hospitals is unable to provide special health care services, indicating the need to encourage foreign and local investors to enter the health care sector and build private hospitals fulfilling the growing needs.

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