Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Security draws Iraqi doctors home

Doctor who returned from Jordan at Baghdad hospital
Doctors have been returning to Iraq from all over the world

Improved security in Iraq has led to 800 doctors returning to the country since the start of the year, a senior health ministry official has said.

The director-general of public health, Ihsan Jaafar, told Reuters news agency that violence had prompted thousands of doctors to flee in the past five years.

Some 200 doctors have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Earlier this year, the Iraqi government announced that it was allowing doctors to carry guns for self-defence.

But according to official statistics, October saw the fewest monthly deaths as a result of violence since 2003.

Mr Jaafar said the fall in violence had encouraged many of the doctors, even those who had left to go to the UK, to return.

"I do not think they returned for financial reasons," he told Reuters.

"The security situation was their sole concern. Without the improved security situation they would not have returned in this number."

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