Swapping Ilford for Baghdad

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 27 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1280
  1. Fiona Fleck
  1. Geneva

    Iraq's health minister, Dr Khudair Abbas, is determined to transform Iraq's health services even though it leaves him exposed to danger

    Iraq's interim health minister, Dr Khudair Abbas—like any other Iraqi working closely with the US led Coalition Provisional Authority—is a natural target for attacks.

    Far from the east London suburbs, where the 54 year old worked as a general and orthopaedic surgeon until he was appointed to Iraq's ministerial council in September, his four mile journey to work in Baghdad is a reminder that he can never feel safe.

    “There are guards at home. I travel to the ministry in a convoy, taking different routes and different timing,” Dr Abbas said in an interview in Geneva, where he was attending the World Health Assembly. “Constant awareness of security has become part of my life,” he added.

    Dr Abbas was born and raised in the southern city of Basra. He qualified at the University of Baghdad in 1972 and came to Britain in 1979, where he became a fierce opponent of the Iraq-Iran war, which led to his 23 years' exile.

    In 1990, he became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, and took up a surgeon's …

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