Iraq has had the highest number of COVID-19 cases and the most deaths from the coronavirus in the Arab world. Meanwhile, the healthcare system has struggled to manage the situation, and the Minister of Health went so far as to warn of the system’s imminent “collapse” at the height of the pandemic. From the perspective of the population, trust in healthcare is at an all-time low and many Iraqis with COVID have avoided hospitals altogether. The deadly April 2021 fire at Ibn al-Khateeb hospital — a key center for the management of COVID cases — only cemented the perception that the system is irreparably broken and mired in corruption. Against this backdrop of current failure is the societal awareness that Iraq once boasted the strongest public healthcare system in the Middle East region. The system began a precipitous decline during the 1990s under UN sanctions and was further dismantled due to the violence, political turmoil, and pervasive corruption that emerged in the years following the 2003 US-led invasion. While researchers and journalists have documented this history and have examined the causes of the war-induced deterioration of Iraq’s healthcare system, little serious effort has been made at the level of Iraqi policymakers or the international aid community to chart a new path forward. The aim of this project is to open up a policy-oriented conversation around the past, present, and most importantly, the future of Iraq’s public healthcare system.
- Healthcare during the Pandemic: Spotlight on Cancer Care in Iraqi Kurdistan. IRIS. January 2023.
- Healthcare Policy in Iraq: Lessons from the Pandemic. IRIS. December 2022.
- Medicine Under Fire: How Corruption Erodes Healthcare in Iraq. KAS. December 2021.
- Webinar on Iraq’s Healthcare Sector. IRIS. December 2021.
Other health publications by the project team
- COVID-19: Assessing Vulnerabilities and Impact on Iraq. The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). April 2020.
- The Long Shadow of Iraq's Cancer Epidemic and COVID-19. MERIP. February 2020.
- High-Cost Cancer Treatment Across Borders in Conflict Zones: Experience of Iraqi Patients in Lebanon. Journal of Global Oncology, 6, 59-66. Jan. 2020.
- Oncology in Iraq’s Kurdish Region: Navigating War, Displacement and Cancer. Journal of Global Oncology. April 2017.
- Changing Therapeutic Geographies of the Iraq and Syrian Wars. The Lancet. February 2014.
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