Kurdistan’s September 25 independence referendum, and the political uncertainty following it, has filled international headlines for weeks now. But disease is blind to political conditions: throughout this difficult time, Agile Global Health has been on the front lines in Kurdistan, ensuring that our patients could forge ahead with their treatment.
The main challenge has been logistics, as both airports through which our Kurdish patients typically depart for international medical treatment have remained closed due to heightened security measures. So Agile’s team members in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah engineered a solution to help our patients reach the care upon which their health depends.
“Our standard procedure for handling thyroid cancer patients is to first receive their most recent medical reports and obtain approval from the treating hospital, Acibadem Altunizade in Istanbul, that they are medically fit to proceed with radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy. Then we prepare the patient’s visa and airline ticket, using Erbil International Airport to reach Turkey,” explained Emad Salai, Agile Global Health’s Erbil-based Senior Care Consultant. But two patients had to travel to Turkey to continue their RAI treatment during the month of October, and couldn’t be managed per this convention. One was a 25-year-old woman, the other a 41-year-old man. Both were sponsored by Kurdistan’s Cancer Patient Support Fund.
“We as Agile Global Health were determined to enable these individuals to continue their treatment uninterrupted,” said Mr. Salai. “For the young woman, after obtaining the okay from the Turkish hospital, we assisted her in arranging ground travel across the Turkish border to the nearest Turkish airport, from which she then took a domestic flight to reach Istanbul. And for the gentleman, we arranged a domestic Iraqi flight from Erbil to Baghdad, followed by an international flight from Baghdad to Istanbul. Our female patient has already completed her treatment and is safely back home in Kurdistan. Our male patient remains in Istanbul, where his treatment continues.”
The unrest didn’t only affect our patients inside Kurdistan; it also touched those who were abroad receiving treatment at the time of the referendum and its repercussions. To support their return home, Agile again had to create new travel plans. “With help from our Agile counterparts in India, our patients who were being treated there have been able to fly home via Baghdad International Airport,” said Mr. Salai.
Comprehensive cross-border healthcare management is complex even under normal conditions; when uncommon security restrictions complicate mobility, it becomes an even greater challenge. Agile’s effective support to our Kurdish patients throughout recent events proves that we are up to the challenge. “The difficulties we face as citizens, as family members, as employees – these are all shared with our patients,” said Mr. Salai. “We understand their experience because we are living it, too. But our commitment to managing our patients’ health does not change with changing political circumstances. Working together with our Agile colleagues in Kurdistan and overseas, we have indeed maintained the support our patients depend on, despite the challenges.”
Agile Global Health
Agile Global Health (operating as A&K Global Health in select countries) is an Agile Health Systems company and a worldwide leader in realizing transparent, affordable, effective and innovative solutions to complex healthcare delivery challenges. We listen to local and national healthcare leaders in every country where we work, and then support their vision to improve their national health system’s accessibility, quality, and clinical outcomes. For patients, we connect you with the right care for your needs, from facilitating quality local and regional treatment to coordinating international medical travel; for healthcare funders and providers, we optimize your organizational impact by introducing transparency, control and customization to the medical, financial and experiential aspects of your clients’ medical journey. Contact us today to learn how we can support you.