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L. Paul Bremer
Coalition Provisional Authority
Ministry of Health Senior Advisor Withdrawn
Ministry of Health
March 27 2004

As all of you know, Iraq becomes sovereign on June 30, 2004, an event toward which the Iraqi people and the Coalition Provisional Authority have been progressing since liberation.

First, officials from the Coalition served as senior advisors to Iraq’s 25 ministries. In effect, these Coalition officials ran Iraq’s ministries. But last September, the Governing Council appointed Iraqis as ministers. The ministers ran the ministries, like the Ministry of Health, with senior advisors serving alongside them. Over the months, Ministers have assumed more and more authority over governmental matters.

As ministries have become increasingly well-organized and staffed, the Coalition wants to give them full authority over their ministries. In deciding when a ministry is ready for full authority, the Coalition considered four questions, as you know Mr. Minister.

• Does the ministry have short and long-term strategies?
• Does the ministry structure and staffing support the goals?
• Thirdly, have training needs been analyzed and training programs begun?
• And finally, are fundamental management systems such as, communications, personnel policies, financial and budgetary controls, in place?

Clearly, here at the Ministry of Health the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes.”

But questions such as these can seem are dry, almost academic. Have there been real, practical accomplishments by this ministry?

And here again at the Ministry of Health the answer is a resounding “yes.” There have been enormous accomplishments. In the months since liberation:

• The country has not faced a public health crisis and there is no evidence of epidemic.
• Health care spending in Iraq has increased to 60 times pre-liberation levels.
• 240 Iraqi hospitals and more than 1,200 primary health centers are operating and have been since last summer.
• More than 30 million doses of children's vaccine have been distributed. The program to immunize the nation’s 4.2 million children under the age of five against preventable diseases is well-advanced.
• More than 700,000 pregnant women have received tetanus toxin vaccinations. These vaccinations benefit mother and child.
• The World Health Organization has declared Iraq to be free of polio.
• Physicians’ salaries have increased dramatically.
• And a comprehensive plan to improve nursing care is underway.

Dr. Abbas, I congratulate you and your staff on these extraordinary accomplishments, and on the success of the partnership you have had with our Senior Advisor Jim Haveman and his colleagues over the past seven months.

Dr. Abbas, you are now in the driver’s seat on the road to sovereignty. From this point forward the Iraqi Ministry of Health will have, for all practical purposes, the same authority as it will formally enjoy after June 30.

Mr. Minister, you know that the countries of the Coalition are available and will remain available to help with advice and money. In the United States we have plans to give almost $800 million in health care assistance in the coming months. But now, as in the months and years to come, the decision to solicit help and advice from any source is yours. It is your decision, Mr. Minister, to accept or reject it.

The Coalition looks forward to additional ministries achieving full authority in the weeks and months before June 30. We want to do everything possible to accelerate Iraq’s march to full and responsible sovereignty.

So, congratulations, Mr. Minister, to you and the members of the Ministry of Health for reaching this milestone on the road to sovereignty.

Mabruk al Iraq al Jadeed.
Aash al-Iraq!


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