Intended for healthcare professionals


An unenviable role

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 16 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:326
  1. Owen Dyer, journalist
  1. London
  1. owen_dyer{at}

    Running Iraq's health department is not only logistically difficult but dangerous. Owen Dyer talks to the new minister about the challenges

    Iraq's beleaguered government has sought outside help to run its troubled health ministry—in the form of a Kent psychiatrist. Dr Sabah Sadik, who until recently was medical director of Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Trust, will take on a ministry heavily infiltrated by the political faction loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and its feared militia, the Mahdi Army. “A lot of people—especially Iraqis—have told me I'm crazy to go,” he said.

    Six Sadrist ministers quit the government in April, including Ali al-Shemari, the health minister. Iraq's government saw an opportunity to break the militia's grip on the health system, says Dr Sadik. “That's the main reason why I've decided to accept this job now. There seems to be a new determination to get the sectarianism out of the ministries and appoint neutral technocrats. If that is serious, I'm willing to be one of them.”

    Dr Sadik qualified in Baghdad in 1974, and has worked in Britain for nearly three …

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