War-scarred refugees fight to keep Arabic-speaking GP

Dr Noha Mahanna's patients don't want to visit anyone else.

A group of refugee women are fighting to keep their GP from being forced onto a rural training program, saying she is the only local doctor who makes them feel “comfortable and safe”.

Dr Noha Mahanna, an IMG in Wollongong, NSW, will lose her Medicare provider number in February unless she enters the Rural Locum Relief Program, even though she plans to sit her final RACGP fellowship exams that same month.

Her patients, who include 300 refugee women from war-torn Syria and Iraq, say she is the city’s only female doctor they can visit without a translator.

At least 65 of those patients have signed a petition imploring the Department of Health to allow her to stay put, arguing there “aren't any other GPs in the area that can help us the way Dr Noha does”.

Noha Mahanna