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Before the start of the second Gulf War, Iraq’s healthcare system was advanced compared to other healthcare systems in the Near and Middle East. But since the late 1980s, the system has rapidly deteriorated. Primary healthcare was previously secured through 172 state-owned hospitals, in addition to 1,000 healthcare centers country-wide. The quality of care was comparable to that of Western standards. The second Gulf War, however, resulted in a UN embargo, and the third Gulf War changed the condition of the healthcare system radically.

Today, Iraq has a high demand for many medical products. There is a lack of nearly everything, ranging from hospital equipment and pharmaceuticals to the most basic materials.

Taking comparable countries into account, Iraq still must undergo substantial developments to once again meet the standards of other countries in the region. By spending 4.1% of its gross domestic product on healthcare, Iraq’s healthcare expenses are much lower than those of other countries in the area (Egypt: 6.1%, Iran: 7.8%, Jordan: 10.5%). One can assume that Iraq’s healthcare expenses will need to rise to similar levels over the medium or long-term in order to regain a comparable healthcare situation within the region.

Even before the second Gulf War, Iraq relied on imports in order to achieve access to medical products. This trend has become increasingly apparent in past years and its effects are being thoroughly felt in current times. The difficult security situation in Iraq has made it complicated to produce advanced technology domestically. There is an absence of both appropriate infrastructure and specialists. Consequently, the Department of Health, as the largest purchasing agent and contractor in the field of medical technology and supplies, relies primarily on imports.

Development through Imports

The development of Iraq’s healthcare sector will still take many years. The demand for foreign products is continuously high and there is an enormous potential for sector growth.

In virtue of the slow materialization of Iraq’s own industry, imports represent the most efficient possibility in satisfying the existing demand. Accordingly, the promotion of imports is an extremely important cornerstone of Iraq’s economic policy. This is where qualified foreign businesses and sector specialists have the chance to apply for public tenders and offer their products.

Market Entry

Although Iraq’s demand for pharmaceuticals and medical technology is very high, and the “Made in Germany” brand is still a symbol of quality in Iraq, the initiation and handling of business activities is highly complicated.

The reasons vary on a situational basis, but range from the complex and specific ministerial regulations in tender invitations (requiring special know-how and experience) to issues of financing and export guarantees, and from risks of the de facto import and transfer of goods to security aspects.

To avoid problems in the above-mentioned areas from the outset, or to rapidly allay them, local partners or individual on-site subsidiaries are of vital importance.

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