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									The purpose of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is to set and maintain the highest standards in surgery. The College has no involvement in political or religious affairs. The purpose of Surgeons’ News, however, is to inform Members and Fellows worldwide of current issues relating to surgery and to provide a forum for the exchange of views. At the time of writing the College has 82 Members and Fellows living and working in Iraq. So it is appropriate that the following heartfelt article from one of those Fellows is published. The College sympathises with his feelings and hopes that Iraq will be able to move swiftly to the stability that will enable standards of surgical practice to flourish. Jim Foster, CEO

medical crisis in iraq
Three and a half years after the liberation of Iraq, Sarmad Khunda reports on the desperate plight of the country’s doctors and surgeons

S

ince the fall of Baghdad in April 2003 there has been total disarray of security and order. mean only a change of

government intentions. people

feared After the

the

people’s the

a regular basis. Whether they are at work, on the road, or even at home, they are easy targets. Successful surgeons are particularly at risk. The number of kidnappings is increasing every day and many doctors have either ceased practice or have left the country. Because of of this, has the practice and medicine declined

the

coup,

feared

government

I thought the change of government would authority, but it is now clear that it also meant the destruction of a social structure and an attempt to establish a new one. All my life I have been told that Iraq is one of the world’s richest countries for natural resources, yet there was widespread poverty and redundancy. Where did the money go? Now, three years after the socalled liberation of Iraq, I see even more poverty, redundancy, disease, and death. Violent deaths have become depressingly common. If someone dies of natural causes, they are considered lucky. Prior to 1958, when Iraq was a Kingdom, the country was peaceful. But the people wanted a republic; there was a military coup and the Kingdom fell. Under the banner of ‘patriotism’, fear, aggression, and injustice have been prevalent ever since. Before the coup, the monarch

and distanced themselves from its intentions. New ideologies prevailed: socialism, nationalism, communism, and (least of all) patriotism. Now Iraq is in the era of democracy imposed by the liberation forces. This has brought hatred, violence, and sectarian division.

surgery is now limited to general practice. Although local police are aware of the problem, kidnappings

‘The number of kidnappings is increasing every day and many doctors have either ceased practice or have left the country’
Poverty, social disruption, and insecurity are prevalent throughout society, yet we are told this is an ideal democracy. Doctors and surgeons are being kidnapped and held to ransom on

occasionally take place right under their noses. Victims are handcuffed, blindfolded, and shut in the boot of a car. The surgical crème de la crème is leaving the country and standards are in decline – but is this a price worth paying for our new democracy? It is not clear when and how this dire situation will improve. However, those whose actions created it are now faced with the responsibility for resolving the crisis. n Sarmad Khunda, Professor of

Obstetrics and Gynecology sskhunda@yahoo.com

surgeonsnews n surgeons abroad n october 2006 5.4

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