Voices From Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan is hosting over two million displaced people and refugees. This includes 300,000 Syrian refugees. In the last twelve months, IHP has shipped over 1.1m treatments of long dated medicines and supplies to partners on the ground.
Health services in Hassan Sham Camp are provided at a collection of porta-cabins grouped together. People come and explain their health problems and are then directed towards different agencies depending on what the issue is.
Complex or serious cases requiring specialist help are referred to hospitals in Erbil. Hassan Sham camp is within an area that was once under ISIS control and was cleared by the Kurdish army. It sits right on the doorstep of a town that was destroyed by mortars and is now deserted. Some of the people in the camp are from this town. They cannot go back, there is unexploded ordinance.
“I work here in the clinic in the camp. I belong to the Kurdish healthcare system, but work in collaboration with the Iraqi healthcare system. On average we see 180-220 cases a day, around a quarter of these are usually children.
People’s health here is affected by underlying issues such as malnutrition which UNICEF is trying to respond to, there is a big problem with malnutrition here. Children often come in with respiratory infections, this is exacerbated by the overcrowding conditions here with so many people living in close proximity. This is also a factor in skin infection such as scabies and Leishmaniosis. These health issues will remain a problem as long as people are living in these conditions.”
“We have received no new medicines in two months. Our stocks are depleted. We are in great need of many things. We are also needing to treat far more people than before because of the number of refugees and IDPs.
A couple of months ago, almost 90% of the patients needing treatment were those affected by the conflict, either IDPs who had escaped as ISIS were driven out of eastern Mosul and presented with a range of health conditions, or soldiers and civilian victims of the conflict.
We are seeing many victims of explosions and accidents – often to many at once and we run out of beds. Now we sometimes have to refer a patient to another hospital as they have more medicines to treat and the patients may pass away on the journey.
We currently only have 30% of what we need in terms of quantity and quality of medicines.”
Dr Saman – Director General of Health, Erbil
Dr Saman has been overseeing health services for the last four years. This includes a 23 hospitals, 256 primary health clinics, 18 specialised centres and 15,000 staff.
“Kurdistan is currently facing many big challenges. The economic crisis has had a big impact on our facilities and services. We need help from many agencies at this time as we are in a stressful situation, facing several crises at the same time.
As well as the large numbers of casualties from the frontline who need treatment, sometimes we are seeing 300 trauma cases a day, mostly civilians. We are currently dealing with more than we can handle, and we are in need of outside assistance.
Since the start of the economic crisis, we haven’t been able to get medicines like we did before. We cannot get the budget we need at the requested time, which affects our ability to deliver health services.”