More than 30 years ago, Iraq was a regional leader in healthcare.
Under the former regime, the country had fallen to last place among
its neighbors in per capita health spending. Its doctors, while
intelligent and educated, did not have access to state-of-the-art
medical training, the Internet, satellite TV, or current medical
and professional journals. The former regime also dispensed care
along party and ethnic lines. As a result, health care for certain
segments of the population and the poor was summarily neglected
and almost nonexistent.
Today’s Iraqi Ministry of Health (MOH) is building a comprehensive
healthcare system that is financially sound and assures quality
care that is accessible, affordable and available regardless of
ethnicity, geographic origin, gender, socio-economic status or religious
MOH personnel are actively working to restructure the Iraqi healthcare
system. Those involved are battling decades of neglect and underinvestment,
but there is a talented staff with ambitious, but achievable, goals
with a focus on:
- Hospital rehabilitation and Primary Health Centers
- Maternal and Child health programs
- Community health and mental health programs
- Public health programs, including clean water, nutrition,
and disease surveillance
- Professional training in both clinical and management settings
The MOH also is working to emphasize the importance of decentralizing
healthcare by working with governorates and Primary Health Centers
to integrate reporting and data collection into a modern system
that prioritizes disease prevention and supervision.
An aspect of prevention and primary care will focus on maternal
and child health with the goal of reducing the infant mortality
rate by one half by the end of 2005.
- The entire country is at pre-war capabilities for providing
health care - 240 Iraqi hospitals and more than 1,200 primary health
centers are operating.
- Doctors' salaries have increased to between US$120 a month
and $180 a month, in comparison to $20 a month before the war.
- Iraq's 2004 budget for health care is US$950 million. Saddam
Hussein's regime provided only $16 million for the Ministry of Health
in 2002, a 90 percent reduction from a decade earlier.
- More than 30 million doses of children's vaccinations have
been procured and distributed, and the Ministry has received grants
to immunize the country's 4.2 million children under the age of
five against preventable diseases such as polio, tetanus, diphtheria,
measles, and tuberculosis.
- Routine vaccinations are available to newborns, children,
and mothers every day at Ministry of Health facilities across the
country and are promoted nationally through immunization days on
the 22nd of each month.
- Since May 24, the Ministry of Health has delivered more
than 25,000 tons of pharmaceuticals and supplies to healthcare facilities
- Since liberation, the country has not faced a major public
- Three Facility Protective Services classes have trained
over 2,200 personnel to protect health facilities.