Kurdistan health care reform has been talked about for a very long time but the main ruling parties, PUK and KDP, have never put their full weight behind it.Mala Bakhtyar, the director of the PUK political bureau, has for the first time spoken about the status of the health system in Kurdistan and the need for reform.
In an open letter to Nechirvan Barzani, who is expected to be nominated to take over the premiership of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Mala Bakhtyar has put forward several areas of priorities for the upcoming cabinet led by KRG President Barzani.
In his second top priority Mr Bakhtyar is very critical of the current health system and calls for a modern system.
Although he is does not explain how to reform it, the very fact that he acknowledges the bad status of the current health system might help to raise the profile of healthcare reform from the top down.
For the reform to be effective, there has to be political will from top officials in the government and parliament.
Here is the full translation of the section about health system in his letter:
“Despite all the reforms that have been done, despite all the new small and big hospitals that are added and the quality of medicine that is of good standards, the health system is a backward system. Citizens are still ripped off by the private hospitals. Still bad quality medicines are in thousands of unlicensed pharmacies and in the hand of smugglers of medicines that have left Kurdish society (Kurdawary) with fatal and long term diseases. This is not to mention that the mortality rate is in part related to the systems of health, medicines and bad pharmacies. Because of this bad health system doctors are allowed, most of the time, to set prices as they wish. The pharmacies and laboratories are the same. And this is all at the expense of health security and sick citizens.
“However, if there is a modern health system, doctors, healthcare staff, pharmacies and all the other services within the health system will be assured of their rights, salaries, income and their consciences, according to their qualifications, hard work and their scientific and professional abilities.
“Where is the rationale that on a daily basis tonnes of expired food and medicine are seized, which is by all standards a huge crime against our national health security, but not even a single smuggler is put in prison because of this crime?! ”
The most important part of a modern health system is regulating all the services through establishing several regulatory bodies responsible for overseeing the overall health system. Without regulations, any attempt of reforms will not be successful.
Dr Shakawan Ismaeel is a consultant physician in acute medicine who writes about health issues in Kurdistan and around the world: Kurdistan is my home
By Dr Shakawan Ismaeel:
Iraqi health authorities have decided to build 18 hospitals throughout the country with an total budget of US$2 billion, according to a report from AKnews.
Adil Mohsen, General Inspector at the Health Ministry, told AKnews that the majority of the hospitals will have at least 100 beds and will be constructed according to international standards.
There are 321 public and private hospitals in Iraq with a total medical staff of 25,000. On Sunday, the Ministry said the country needed some 7,000 anesthetists.
Mohsen said among the hospitals will be “specialized hospitals for heart disease, nervous system, burns, and maternity.”
The Ministry of Health announced earlier this month that its 2012 budget exceeds US$6 billion. The Ministry said it will sue the money to build 150 clinics, contracting with more doctors including Indian medical practitioners.