In the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, Sara* is struggling to care for her young child Ahmed,* who has haemophilia. Most of the time she is unable to find the medicine that she needs for him. 

The failure of the city’s pharmacies to deliver has revealed to Sara the toxicity of Iraq’s post-2003 patchwork public and private healthcare system. Over the years, she says she has learned a key reason why the medicine frequently does not arrive.

Pharmacies often only contact her at very short notice to indicate the drug is available for collection immediately. If she misses the collection slot, the drug is gone. But her son’s condition cannot stick to such a schedule. This has turned Sara’s life into a struggle for good luck to be in the right place at the right time.

The kinds of medicines Ahmed needs are intended for the public but have often been sold for private profit as part of a system which has generated billions for Iraq’s elite and armed groups at the expense of her boy and many others just like him. The privatization has led to the proliferation of fake and expired medicine, which offer greater profit margins for this elite.

Read the full XCEPT feature on Chatham House’s website.

*The names and some circumstances of the people described in this feature have been changed in order to protect their identities.