Developing Iraq's Mental Health Policy

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As Iraq faces the challenge of securing a sustainable resolution to the current violence, the burden of mental illness is likely to increase dramatically. The impact of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, the Iran-Iraq war, U.S.-led economic sanctions, the Persian Gulf wars, and the U.S. invasion and subsequent violent insurgency have devastated Iraq's governmental and social infrastructure. Health care delivery across sectors has suffered greatly. During the reconstruction phase, the United States and coalition forces allocated resources to restructure Iraq's health care system. Many multinational organizations, governments, and policy makers had the political will as well as the financial and human resources to greatly influence Iraq's mental health program. However, the lack of an existing mental health plan stifled these efforts. Applying Kingdon's model for policy development, which includes political analysis, problem defining, and proposal drafting, the authors describe the development of Iraq's current mental health policy.

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