Health Crisis in the making as Doctors flee Iraq

By Wilson Fache for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

On Oct. 10, the Iraqi president approved a law passed by the parliament to provide comprehensive support to doctors in order to prevent the massive emigration in this sector and encourage overseas doctors to return to Iraq.

Yet it is not known to what extent the law will achieve its goals and how the Iraqi government will implement it.

A growing number of Iraqi doctors are departing their war-torn country despite a shortage of medical professionals, namely because of threats to their personal safety, a lack of career prospects and unbearable working conditions.

The situation in remote areas such as Dahuk province in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan is worse, as doctors face more challenges and less support. The large number of Iraqis and foreigners who are displaced in Dahuk make health-care conditions there seem out of control.

In Dahuk, the imbalance between the number of doctors and patients has become excruciating as nearly half a million Syrian refugees and Iraqis displaced by the Islamic State (IS) onslaught in Iraq have found shelter in this area, while the number of physicians has been steadily decreasing as more and more choose to emigrate.

“The lack of doctors is an issue for Iraq as a whole … but [in] Dahuk [we are] suffering more than anywhere else,” Dr. Nezar Ismet, the director of Dahuk's Health Ministry, told al-Monitor. “We are trying not to shut down any hospital,” he added, “but we are hardly managing because of the lack of human resources.”

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