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Rudaw

Kurdistan

Internationally-Recognized Medical Facility a First for Kurdistan

By Armando Cordoba 13/6/2013
Located on Erbil’s 60 Meter Street, the Medya Diagnostic Center is the first of its kind in Iraq, and its labs fully meet international standards, says Raman Pollus, the center’s medical director. Photo: Rudaw
Located on Erbil’s 60 Meter Street, the Medya Diagnostic Center is the first of its kind in Iraq, and its labs fully meet international standards, says Raman Pollus, the center’s medical director. Photo: Rudaw


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Since the state-of-the-art Medya Diagnostic Center in Erbil opened for business, patients in the Kurdistan Region or other parts of Iraq no longer have to travel abroad for expensive tests that were not possible before, its directors say.

“I personally know people who, before we opened this center, had to travel to Turkey or Jordan twice a year” for tests, says Sherko Qashani, Medya’s business development manager. “Now bear in mind, you had to pay travel costs and hotel costs -- for a test that costs $20 or $30,” he explains.

Located on Erbil’s 60 Meter Street, the Medya Diagnostic Center is the first of its kind in Iraq, and its labs fully meet international standards, says Raman Pollus, the center’s medical director.

After more than two years in the making, the diagnostic center received official accreditation in February from the College of American Pathologists, which certifies medical labs that meet a rigorous professional checklist to guarantee top-notch patient care.

Officials at Medya say they can do more than 100 different medical tests, offering them to Kurds and Iraqis who previously were often forced to travel abroad.

In order to meet the headquarters’ strict requirements and assure delivery of the best services, the center had to spend more than US$1.5 million, its founders say.

“We sent staff for training, hired international consultants to supervise the process and we began spending on all the requirements,” says Qashani. “They gave us a checklist with several hundred items -- from the structure, from the kind of equipment, to the staff training, to the chemicals used, to the processes and the procedures.”

Iraq once had one of the Arab world’s best healthcare systems, but it all deteriorated following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces in 1990 and the subsequent embargo on the country by the UN Security Council.

Kurdish officials admit that the Kurdistan Region’s health sector has its flaws, and for that reason they often seek the assistance of outside experts.

The region’s Health Minister Rekawt Rashid recently signed an agreement with Jordanian health officials to provide expertise to Kurdish health workers.

 

Qashani says the center has to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and be constantly vigilant, to assure the lab maintains required standards.

“We have to bring chemicals from places like Germany, because the chemicals here aren’t sufficient enough and it all costs money,” he says, explaining just one of the problems.

The Kurdistan Region has a universal healthcare system, but in 2012 the Kurdish government allocated only 4.8 percent of its annual budget on health, which the health minister admitted was not enough.

“This is very low,” Rashid told Niqash news website last year. “Most countries allocate more than nine percent to the health sector.”

Government officials in Erbil say that by cutting the region’s annual budget, Baghdad causes further strain on public services, including healthcare.

For its part, Kurdistan’s Investment Board has stepped in to encourage private investment in the health sector.

“There has been a lack of investment in this sector,” says Kamaran Mufti, head of the Investment Board. “Thus far $195 million has been invested in around 17 projects in the region.”

The idea of private hospitals is still new to many in the Kurdistan Region, and according to Pollus, the fear the high costs has been a deterrent to many people.

“In the beginning people came here and saw the large building and would say, ‘this building is only for VIP’s,’ and we lost money in the beginning,” he told Rudaw. “But this is open for all people and we offer certain tests for as low as 5,000 Iraqi Dinars [US$3].”

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KekeKekoKaka | 14/6/2013
"Kurdish officials admit that the Kurdistan Region’s health sector has its flaws, and for that reason they often seek the assistance of outside experts." Of course, when the money ends up in your pockets instead of actually being used on the people. Not all officials in Kurdistan, are corrupt, thank God, but enough of them are, so that we safely can say it affects the living conditions of the average citizen of Southern Kurdistan. One thing I can not seem to understand is, we have so many skillful Kurdish professionals in 1. the diaspora (KRG should do a lot more to encourage these to get back to Kurdistan with their expertise) instead of having Swedes, Americans, Germans etc come and get our money. Kurds can do at least as good jobs and they should get our money. 2. There are countless of skillful Kurdish professionals in Bakur, Rojhelat and Rojava and they would happily move to Bashur and work there if the KRG would make it worth it. I honestly believe KRG needs to rethink their strategies. Not only can they give work to fully qualified Kurdish doctors, engineers etc, but they can also act as a unified force, by gathering Kurdish intellectuals and professionals from all parts of Kurdistan. “There has been a lack of investment in this sector,” says Kamaran Mufti, head of the Investment Board. “Thus far $195 million has been invested in around 17 projects in the region.” We don't need no private investment in this sector my friend. Kurdish people deserve to get free medical care. The KRG should use the money from oil profits etc on healthcare in Kurdistan. It should be top noch and free for all. Even Kurds and Arabs outside Kurdistan should get free treatment as long as all Kurds inside the KRG are already satisfied. If the healthcare in Kurdistan becomes private business (which it already is to a large extent) that would be a complete joke and disrespectful against the people who has suffered so much in the past. Especially our elders should 100% get free treatment. Biji Karda/Kurdistan!
Jovan | 14/6/2013
Pirooza :) I am proud !
Dr anonymous !! | 14/6/2013
What the author and many readers are not aware is this centre is built by the public money,the staff receiving salary from the public budget ! The profit is for the pocket of corrupted individuals. Is it a progress for the public hospitals to have the lowest standards labs while this centre making profit on the expense of the public ? Enough of these foreign journalists who have no clue about our systems and just report the false side of story !!
Aram Shamerany | 15/6/2013
I think opening such medical centre or testing centre, (whatever they want to call it) will only reinforces the current social inequalities and the corruptions that rooted in the health system. the individuals who have the most power in the government are far more experienced and skilled than we think in taking public capital without letting us realising it.
KekeKekoKaka | 15/6/2013
What two kind of mentally retarded people are there who are against free medical healthcare? Some Kurds are simply sub human inferior monkeys. I'm sorry to say. Luckily most aren't.
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