June 20, 2021 | healthcare

Health ministry denies Hiwa Cancer Hospital will be closed or privatised

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Health has denied Hiwa Cancer Hospital will be closed or privatised amid reports of medicine shortages and unpaid employees.

“We will not accept Hiwa hospital or any cancer hospital, any governmental establishments being sold to the private sector,” Saman Barzinji told Rudaw on Saturday.

“Cancer treatment in Kurdistan, more than 98 percent of the services are totally free, and no money is taken from patients,” he said, adding the Kurdistan Region’s Council of Ministers will resolve the issue.

The hospital director also confirmed it would not be closed.

“I reassure the civilians of Sulaimani city and the Kurdistan Region that Hiwa hospital will be the same Hiwa as before, and will continue to be in the future,“ Yad Naqishbandi, who also acts as spokesperson for Sulaimani’s health department, told Rudaw on Saturday.

Employees working overtime have not been paid their salaries for over six months, according to Naqishbandi.

Hospital employees went on strike last week, but Naqishbandi said they have returned to work despite no resolution being made.

Patients from all over Iraq, as well as Kurds from Syria, Turkey and Iran visit the hospital. The director says the hospital receives eight to ten new patients per day.

Former volunteers at the hospital have spoken of the problems patients and their families face.

“We have a lot of medicine issues … if the issue is not solved as soon as possible, the problem will be even bigger and more patients will pay the price,”,” the hospital’s head of medicine, Khoshi Hamid, told Rudaw on June 6. He explained that the hospital is out of two types of medicine that are needed by more than 150 patients.

“If medicine runs out at other hospitals it might cost 4,000 to 5,000 thousand dinars, it might be 20,000, patients can buy it. But when their medicine is for $6,000 every 20 days, can they buy it?” Naqishbandi added.

The Ministry of Finance on Saturday issued a statement saying the issue is “political” shirking responsibility for the issue, but said it will coordinate with the central bank of the Kurdistan Region to resolve funding problems.


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