• HUSHYAR MUSA SULAIMAN Senior community medicine specialist, Duhok Directorate General of Health, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
  • REBAR FETTAH MOHAMMED Assistant professor, Dean of College of Administration and Economics, University of Duhok, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
  • SAMIM AHMED AL-DABBAGH Professor, College of Medicine, University of Duhok, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Keywords: health system, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, SWOT, health reform, qualitative, stakeholder


Background: Health systems are dynamic and evolve over time. It is essential to look at the entire health system before implementing any intervention to modernize the whole health system or a component of it. This study analyzed the performance of the health system in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and investigated potential reform steps to mitigate the identified challenges.

Methods: A qualitative study was conducted in 2021 to recruit 37 key informants and decision-makers, advisors, and experts from the Kurdistan Parliament, Ministry of Health, Ministerial Council, Ministry of Finance, and external experts in the field of health. Thirty-one responded to a self-administered questionnaire of open-ended questions.

Results: While the health system in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq had its own strengths and opportunities to modernize it further, there were much more weaknesses and threats to it. The areas that received much attention were the lack of vital laws such as the medical council, health insurance, public-private sector regulation, accreditation, food and drug administration, and the absence of a regional health policy and strategic plan. The parliament and executive authorities, represented by the different government agencies in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, have a role in mitigating all the weaknesses and threats in the health system.

Conclusions: The study provides policy evidence and a framework of the potential health strategies for the current and the coming government cabinets and parliament rounds in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to improve the health sector and contribute to achieving sustainable development goals by 2030. It provides a road map for researchers to explore the current health system problems further and find suitable solutions.


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