Thursday, 23 October 2008, 02:24 GMT
U.S. Secretary of Health visits Kurdistan

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt and KRG Health Minister Dr. Zryan Osman talk to reporters on Tuesday, October 21. GLOBE PHOTO/Qassim Khidhir

The Globe-Erbil

Leavitt cites Iraq's once-strong leadership in the health field.

Kurdistan Ministry of Health confirms that there is no cholera in Kurdistan Region.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt arrived in Erbil city last Monday from Baghdad.

Leavitt stated that the U.S. doesn't want to sign an agreement with Baghdad only in the field of security, but they also want agreements in other fields such as health, culture, and economy.
"My main purpose for visiting Kurdistan is to build a better connection with the people of Kurdistan Region," said Leavitt in a joint press conference with Kurdistan Health Minister Dr. Zryan Osman.
Leavitt cited that 30 years ago Iraq was a strong health center and the leader of the Middle East in the health field, something he believes will happen again.
The Iraqi Health Ministry reported that 618 medical employees, including 132 doctors, have been killed since 2003. Well-known doctors have been the prime targets of kidnappers. Around 7,000 doctors had fled to neighboring countries such as Syria and Jordan, and hundreds have moved to Kurdistan Region and are still living and working in Kurdistan.
In a desperate proposal to encourage the doctors to return to their country, the Iraqi government recently announced that doctors will be permitted to carry guns for personal protection.
Regarding cholera, Dr. Osman told reporters that Kurdistan Region has no reported cases. He also expressed his happiness that the U.S. Secretary of Health has visited the region.
"I requested that the U.S. Secretary of Health send students in Kurdistan to the United States to study medical science," said Dr. Osman. He also wants the U.S. to train cadres in medicine quality control.
Kurdistan Region still suffers from lack of proper quality control. Companies currently bring the cheapest and most required medicine into Kurdistan because many people can't afford to buy the best quality.
Recently, the Ministry of Health opened a quality control division and warned companies not to bring bad quality medicines into Kurdistan Region, but the staff in that division is not qualified to implement the rules.
Dr. Osman said Kurdistan should not wait for any country to aid the region in combating diseases.
"Rooting out diseases is related to education, environment, and water," Dr. Osman explained. "If you educated our people, protected our environment from pollution, and provided people with clean water, there won't be diseases in our country."
Dr. Osman concluded: "Only we [people and government] can end diseases."