What is the IMA UK?
Iraqi Medical Association United Kingdom or “IMA UK” is an organisation that promotes communication & networking between healthcare professionals of Iraqi origin, as well as those from other backgrounds. Most of its members are based in the UK; however, it also caters for professionals internationally.
IMA UK was founded in 1991 by a group of Iraqi doctors living in England, to support colleagues arriving to the UK. Since then it has gone a long way into strengthen the bonds between healthcare professionals of Iraqi origin in the UK by organising scientific as well as social gatherings.
Since 2003, the IMA UK has sent medical books & equipments to Iraq. In 2005 it supported the formation of the Student Iraqi Medical Association (SIMA). 2011 saw the first Executive committee to have a dentist as its president, as well as a pharmacist in the committee, bringing with it greater participation of non-medical professionals. In 2012 it began its regional expansion with the formation of the North & Midlands Branch, along with the formation of an Expert Network for charitable activities to aid Iraq. 2013 the IMA(UK) began its first telemedicine events allowing professionals in the UK and Iraq work together with the aim of improving healthcare delivery to patients.
IMA(UK) is a voluntary organisation that relies solely on its members’ personal efforts to carry out its projects. Donations are welcome to support the organisation, helping it remain independent from all religious and political bodies. Run by its members, for the benefit of all.
IMA UK History
In the late 1980’s a small group of professionals had a vision… the formation of a body that would serve the needs of their small but growing community. These Iraqis wanted to form a network to bring together existing professionals and help their colleagues negotiate the UK system. The aim was noble, the cause commendable, and the ethos admirable.
This organisation went on for over twenty years, growing exponentially in numbers year by year. It held large-scale events that brought together communities from a wide scope of differing ideologies and outlooks on life. It became a social hub that had far reaching effects and was recognised throughout the growing Iraqi community as a respectable professional organisation that fulfilled the needs of its community.
The organisation was built to last. It was and still is unique… a democratic institution that was neutral to all political and religious affiliations.
The Iraqi Medical Association “IMA”, as it was originally named, then changed its title to “IMA UK” to prevent confusion with the organisation in Iraq, went through many struggles throughout its life. Naturally any body with such a large following would generate high expectations, and being democratic… much controversy.
Over two decades have passed since its inception. In that time the Iraqi community in the UK has become an established entity in its own right. Its needs have become more complex whilst at the same time there were dramatic changes in Iraq. The organisation became lost in this frenzy of change that overtook it; with unrealistic expectations and much weight on its shoulders it took a heavy blow.
It was its democratic nature that reignited the organisation. It came to realise that the community’s needs had shifted. It had to redefine itself, change, adapt to its new environment.
So where is the IMA UK now and what are its goals?
We have been working hard since an Interim Committee was elected in 2009. We approved a new updated constitution in 2010 that makes the association more democratic, have updated the election process and have restructured the association.
We hold regular social and scientific events throughout the year. We held a conference debating the Iraqi Healthcare System, and we plan a workshop on this topic. We plan to become more active in the other UK regions and we are working toward setting up and Expert Panel to facilitate our Iraqi Healthcare Project.
I believe we should always be realistic about what we can achieve and how far any single organisation can go to fulfilling the wishes of its community.
The IMA UK is an organisation that receives no funding from any source apart from its membership, and is entirely run by a group of elected volunteers.
IMA UK acts as a platform for discussion, debate, networking, socialising, and education, and can act as a united voice for British Iraqi healthcare workers. Its aim is to bring together the Iraqi healthcare community, thus empowering them to help one another and work together to help improve healthcare in the UK and Iraq.
“What lies behind us and lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Dr Ahmed Alshafi
IMA UK President