After years of armed conflict and instability, the health sector in Iraq is struggling to get back on its feet. Many health facilities have been destroyed and those still operating lack medical supplies and qualified health workers.
The humanitarian needs in Iraq remain extremely high. Many cities retaken from the Islamic State group are severely damaged or destroyed. Thousands of people returning home confront a desperate lack of access to medical care and other services.
Our teams are currently responding to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq.
We provide antenatal and postnatal care, as well as services for complicated and non-complicated deliveries, and family planning. Our hospitals in west Mosul and Tal Afar district were assisting more than 1,000 deliveries a month in early 2018. Towards the end of the year, we also started working in the refurbished hospital in Sinuni, where the maternity ward is fully operational and a paediatric inpatient department and operating theatre are scheduled to open soon.
War-related trauma cases are decreasing but the security situation remains fragile. We opened a second operating theatre at our emergency field hospital in Qayyarah, northern Iraq, in March 2018. We've also provided hospitals in Erbil, Zakho and Dohuk with medical supplies for treating the wounded.
Many trauma patients will need multiple surgeries, regular dressing changes, pain management, and physiotherapy. MSF has built a post-operative care facility in Mosul and opened a medical rehabilitation centre in Baghdad. Improving patients' post-surgical recovery processes will help prevent complications and physical and psychological impairments.
The psychological and emotional scars of the war are immense. That's why mental health is a key component of many of our projects in Iraq. MSF psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors give vital care and support to people with post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, schizophrenia and severe anxiety.
According to the International Organization for Migration, over 4 million people have returned to their places of origin in Iraq since the crisis erupted in January 2014, and the number of returnees continues to surpass 100,000 a month. At the same time, more than 1.8 million people remain displaced across Iraq, often in camps or informal settlements that lack basic facilities, including healthcare, and water and sanitation. Places of return, meanwhile, are often characterised by residual insecurity, damage to property and public infrastructure, limited access to services and livelihoods, and fractured social relations.
Voices from the field
The need is enormous, the trauma experienced by the people here is hard to imagine.MSF nurse Vera Schmitz