As part of World Vision’s campaign address the health concerns of the internally-displaced people in Iraq, especially the children and elderly, eight doctors have been hired by World Vision take turns visiting buildings and churches housing the displaced to provide medical care and assistance. The program has started in Sulaymaniyah’s internally displaced (IDP) areas and will soon move to Erbil and Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
After months of living in overcrowded, often inadequate shelters, health problems are often among the greatest concerns for the displaced, many of whom have a hard time reaching public health facilities due to the high costs of taxis and lack of public transportation.Their days are anything but boring. During a typical day a team of doctors regularly see at least 200 people, providing them with advice and (when needed) medicines. The most common ailments they see are bronchitis, tonsillitis, gastro-enteritis as well as colds and coughs. Serious or untreatable cases are referred to local hospitals.
“The goal of this initiative is to bring the health program to the people,” said Dr. Ali Shah, World Vision’s programme manager for health, who noted that this sector is part of World Vision’s integrated emergency programming model which aims for all sectors of support to be implemented in camps and buildings where the displaced are living to ensure the most vulnerable receive sustainable support in all areas.
In addition to helping their fellow citizens, many of the doctors employed by the programme have been displaced themselves. Dr. Omar, 27, said there was no choice but to leave his job and hometown for a safer place. He recalled how a bomb fell on the hospital where he worked in Salahaddin, killing at least one colleague and injuring many others
Women doctors were needed as well. Dr. Rasha, 30, jumped at the chance to help her countrymen when she learned of World Vision’s health programme. “I want to help in my own way,” she adds. The mobile health program which aims to reach at least 50,000 people over the next six months is supported by the World Health Organization and the Dutch Government. Medicines that are prescribed by the doctors are currently being provided with support from the World Health Organization.