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Health staff in the north must be paid, says IMC

A nongovernmental survey of health facilities in Iraq's northern governorates has revealed a desperate need to pay medical personnel so as to forestall further deterioration in the health services.

"Iraqi medical staff and doctors and nurses have stayed and defended their clinics, and continued working throughout the military drama," Aidan Goldsmith, the programme manager of the International Medical Corps for Iraq, told IRIN. "If they are not paid, or if other organizations come in and start pulling away some of their top staff, you will see a partial collapse of the health system," he warned.

Goldsmith added that it was equally important to pay electricity, water and sewage personnel to enable services to keep functioning and repairs and maintenance to be carried out.

Goldsmith was speaking in the Turkish capital, Ankara, after returning from a one-week assessment of the health situation in the northern governorates of Dahuk, Erbil, As-Sulaymaniyah and At-Ta'min. Hospitals in all these areas were working well, he said. "They have medicines, they have supplies and they have medical staff who are turning up for work."

In Kirkuk, health ministry officials told Goldsmith that of the 15 health centres in the district, four had been completely looted, two partially looted and nine clearly operational and functional. "I visited one... [of that clinics that had been looted]," he said. "The actual structure of the building was intact, but all the windows, doors and anything not bolted down were removed or damaged," he said.

The UN Office for the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (UNOCHI) said in a report issued on Tuesday that the health sector in the northern governorates is functioning largely as before. Local authorities had resupplied health facilities in Kirkuk, Mosul and Erbil, supported by WHO and NGOs in some areas. "The health sector is under severe stress, but shows a remarkable resilience," UNOCHI said.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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