Iraq, December 2020 –Five years of conflict in Iraq has significantly affected more than 5 million Iraqis who, at one point in time, have left their areas of origin to safer shelters in different parts of the country. Approximately half a million civilians have incurred some level of injury while a few thousand lost one part or more of their bodies.
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO)- in collaboration with the national health authorities, partners, and donors- has widened the range of specialized health services for the people with physical disabilities to ensure their easy access to physiotherapy and psychosocial support programs, especially the Internally Displaced People (IDPs).
The endeavor also included motivating the inclusion, participation, and leadership of this vulnerable group in the 2030 Development Agenda.
“WHO, national counterparts and other partners are working hand in hand to ensure that people with disability all over Iraq enjoy fair and easy access to rehabilitation services, assistive technologies, and vocational training to improve their functioning and independence and foster their contribution to social life,” said Dr. Adham R. Ismail Abdel Moneim, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq.
In November 2019, WHO conducted an assessment in Talafar and Sinjar districts of Ninawa Governorate to investigate the flow of WHO supported physical rehabilitation and mental health services in the health facilities serving the communities there.
Hiba, Mohamed, and Hussain- three physical rehabilitation technicians delivering specialized services in the Rehabilitation Unit in Talafar General Hospital- receive a daily average of 20 patients. “Patients are referred to us by the specialized orthopedic surgeon in the hospital. All referrals require different physical therapies,” explained Mohamed. “We are very grateful to WHO for availing such services for Talafar people. Many here are returnees. We still need additional good equipment and physiotherapy machines to deliver better services,” said Mohamed.
Sabah Khalil from Telafar District told WHO “This is my 3rd treatment session in the facility, my case is improving, though very slow” he said. “But, having this level of physical services available in the district hospital saved us a lot of efforts to travel to the main city for similar care,” Khalil added thanking WHO and its project implementing partner Cordiad for availing this type of services in Telafar General Hospital.
Sinjar Hospital, on the other hand, has two big prefabs serving as the Physical Rehabilitation Unit. They were crowded with patients the day of the visit. “We request that WHO and its partners consider giving us a bigger space and better equipment to accommodate the increasing demand for the rehabilitation services in Sinjar Hospital,” said Hassan Amer, a rehabilitation technician with over 15 years of service in Sinjar health facility.
We also met with Noria Kamal, a 62-year-old Yazidi woman who shared with us the hard experience of her family’s displacement to Duhok more than four years ago; she is happy to have finally returned to Sinjar. She expressed satisfaction with the medical team and the quality of services provided by the unit. “The staff are very polite and do their job properly,” she said. “But more of such services is still needed especially for old people like me,” she commented.
In 2018, WHO received generous contributions from ECHO, USAID-OFDA, and the Italian Agency for Development Corporation to support the provision of physical and mental health rehabilitation services in Ninewa Governorate. The contribution enabled WHO to address major gaps with effective and sustainable solutions like supporting the rehabilitation centers and providing prosthetics and assistive devices to war-affected people.
“It is a collective responsibility to support the persons with disability and drive efforts to boost their inclusion and active participation in community activities to success,” concluded Dr. Abdel Moneim.
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