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IRAQ: Wasit Province initiative to get doctors to return

BAGHDAD, 11 February 2010 (IRIN) - The authorities in Wasit Province, central Iraq, are introducing financial and other incentives to attract specialist doctors to return to local health facilities, according to officials.

Mahmoud Abdul-Ridha Talal, head of Wasit Provincial Council, said specialists were urgently needed, and that incentives were on offer - including a payment of the equivalent of between US$850 and $1,700 to various different specialist doctors, as well as car and housing allowances.

Provincial health chief Mahir Ghanim Al-Abidi and Talal said anaesthetists as well as heart, gynaecology and other specialists were needed.

Wasit Province lies about 200km south of Baghdad, and is predominantly Shia.

Until recently it was largely under the control of the Al-Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr. Sporadic violence was common, but currently it is considered one of the safest provinces in central Iraq, according to Ahmed Alwan Jabit, a senior police officer in Wasit.

Sectarian violence over the past few years prompted many doctors to seek refuge in the relatively peaceful parts of northern Iraq or in neighbouring countries.

The Health Ministry said about 8,000 of the country’s 15,500 doctors had left their jobs between 2003 and 2008, and in late 2008 it called on all doctors to return, with promises of secure accommodation, gun permits and increased salaries.

By the end of 2009, about 1,480 doctors had returned to their jobs, said Health Ministry spokesman Sabah Abdullah Karkokli.

"They have danger allowances and the right to bear weapons for self-protection," Karkokli told IRIN. "We are now building 10 mega-hospitals nationwide where there will be housing complexes for doctors," he added.

Meanwhile, the chronic lack of specialists in Wasit means many people are forced to seek the services of inexperienced junior doctors.


Theme(s): (IRIN) Health & Nutrition


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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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