According to the World Health Organisation, the Iraqi Government estimates that almost 70% of critically injured patients with violence-related wounds die while in emergency and intensive care units due to a shortage of competent staff and a lack of drugs and equipment (April 2007, Geneva). Although security remains a serious issue – impeding accurate assessment of the present state of medical services and health needs, and the distribution of medical goods – there are many simple provisions that can be offered by the international community to help dramatically reduce this figure. However, four years following the 2003 invasion many initial efforts to assist the situation have not been pursued.
This conference, organised by The Iraqi Medical Association in collaboration with Medact, invited a wide range of individuals and organisations involved in the health sector of Iraq to discuss these issues in a series of talks, plenary discussion sessions and smaller discussion groups.
The conclusions from the conference included a general consensus that continuing to network by holding regular meetings and discussions between groups would ensure improved co-ordination of projects and better utilisation of resources. This co-ordinated effort should include both UK-led groups and our Iraqi counterparts, and in this way try to secure financial support for existing projects, particularly those that involve local Iraqi-led groups working in the Iraq to ensure assistance at grass roots level.
It was also agreed that Iraqi refugees displaced in Syria, Jordan, Iran and in other countries are still in urgent need of assistance. The international community should participate more in the funding, organisation and protection of basic medical care provision, and assist more in providing appropriate housing, education and employment for these people. There is no security threat in assisting Iraqis in these areas and the governments of these countries have already made repeated pleas requesting help.
An e-mail discussion group has been set up following this conference encouraging further networking and wider participation in existing ideas and projects. It was agreed that another similar meeting would be arranged soon to discuss follow-up plans and to ensure the plight of the Iraqi people and their continuing struggle to secure a functioning and reliable health system is not forgotten.
This conference grew out of previous initiatives such as the front page letter signed by 92 doctors that appeared the Independent earlier in the year, which called attention to the state of Iraqi hospitals and the consequences for the health of Iraqi children. It also followed various communications with the UK Department for International Development and other politicians. It was directly the result of discussions between the Iraqi Medical Association (IMA), Medact and other organisations – particularly the International Medical Corps – concerned about health in Iraq. There was an awareness of ongoing support to the health sector in Iraq being provided – despite the security situation – by international organisations, local NGOs and individuals who were not necessarily in touch with each other.
Source: Medact Medact – WMD & Conflict – THE IRAQ HEALTH CRISIS