One Iraqi doctor calls it quits

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World, a coproduction of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH in Boston. The people of Iraq have endured so much violence over the past decade. Many of them just want out. Sara Darwish is an Iraqi doctor who left her country just this year. A month ago she moved to Southern California. Sara, hello and welcome to the US.

Sara Darwish: Thank you so much.

Werman: How did you actually make it out of Iraq? I mean what was going on when you left?

Darwish: Well, it was the security situation actually, the disturbed security situation that mostly made the daily life a really hard job. And just the unstable security situation and the daily killing and bombs that was very stressful. I just couldn't concentrate on myself to get what I want because, you know, this daily thing, was very horrible.

Werman: What was that like to be a doctor under those conditions? What kind of challenges did you face?

Darwish: Well, it was pretty difficult to be in such situation because you know, the patients in the Iraqi health system, it was very deteriorated and the infrastructure was very poor, and the response specified for health is very limited. So you suffer from limitation of medications and the necessary equipment, so that was the hard thing was you feel in pain because you cannot help those people to get what they deserve, even if it's a simple treatable condition.

Werman: Did you ever have any patients die that didn't have to die because of the lack of resources?

Darwish: Yeah, yeah, it happens a lot, especially during the explosions when we receive a high number of patients and simple emergency room, and all of them in critical situations. One of the things actually is the limited number of doctor and healthcare providers because most of them migrate to other countries, so yeah, that happens a lot.

Werman: Was it hard to leave Iraq, Sara, knowing that even without the resources there, Iraq would be better off with one more doctor?

Darwish: It is actually very hard and I didn't think it would be that much hard until I get here, because when I got here and I saw life here, it is simple and I feel more sorry for my country because they deserve a better life and better chances to have a good future. That's why it's very hard to see this. I wish I can contribute more to them.

Werman: Are you having second thoughts?

Darwish: Well, yeah, actually for now I'm working on evaluating my degree and then I would have more choices and options to, you know, be of more benefit for my country.

Werman: Were you able to move to the US with most of your family and how is everyone doing?

Darwish: I came to the US with my parents and it's all good. We are settled, perhaps partially by now because it's only been a month, but I left my relatives and my extended family, my very dear friends there, so I'm thinking of them all the time because it's been hard to be away from them and worrying about them.

Werman: Do you think someday you'll go back to Iraq?

Darwish: I hope so.

Werman: What would it take to get you back, I mean aside from security? Is that all it needs, more security?

Darwish: For me, yes, because other things are durable and we can work on it, but the security situation is the main reason.

Werman: Sara Darwish, a doctor who moved to California from Iraq a month ago, Sara, let's stay in touch, shall we?

Darwish: Sure thing.