Kurdistan's health minister Rekawt Hamarashid [CL] during a joint visit with his Iraqi counterpart Adila Hammoud [CR] to a displaced camp in Kurdistan Region in December 2016. Photo: Hamarashid's Facebook account.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Iraqi central government’s alleged decision to withhold supplies of medicine to the Kurdistan Region will likely create an immediate crisis in pharmaceutical markets in Kurdistan amidst an ongoing influx of refugees to the region, according to the Kurdish minister of health.
Rekawat Hamarashid warned if Baghdad imposes medical sanctions on the Kurdistan Region, his health ministry will have “immediate and serious” difficulties in securing supplies of much needed drugs to Iraqi displaced people whose number could be as high as 1.8 million.
“Baghdad has not been particularly helpful in the past in regard to supply of medicine, but the government is now considering reducing the supply by almost 50 percent, which will lead to severe shortages if the decision is implemented,” Hamarashid said.
A government document believed to have been signed by the Iraqi Minister of Health Aadila Hamoud Hussein was leaked to the media last month. In the document, large reductions of medical supplies to the Kurdistan Region are recommended. The Iraqi minister has refrained from commenting on the report.
The document reportedly asks Baghdad to withhold nearly half of the needed drugs to Kurdish stores and refers to the ongoing revenue disputes between Erbil and the Iraqi government.
Hamarashid told Rudaw his ministry is to meet with foreign representatives and international aid organisations in Erbil on Wednesday to plead for assistance.
“We will tell them that we have been providing not only the growing population in Kurdistan with the needed drugs, but also the millions of refugees currently living in the region. And that has been tremendously difficult due to the financial crisis here. Not only did Iraq not provide assistance, but they are also trying to reduce the little help they have offered us,” the Kurdish minister said.
Hamarashid added his ministry will ask foreign aid organisations to deliver their medical contributions directly to the Kurdistan Region instead of providing them through the Iraqi health ministry.