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MSF Activities in Iraq
Currently, MSF has 13 international volunteers and 28 Iraqi staff working throughout Iraq.
August 22, 2003
An MSF team has been working in the Al Thawra hospital in Sadr City since May 2003. One doctor works on the male surgical ward to give train and supervise the nursing staff and junior doctors. MSF has produced two booklets - one on dressings and the other on vital signs and distributed copies to all the nursing staff.
A team continues supervising the primary health care program at the Al Muntadhar Clinic, which performs 700-800 consultations per week. MSF also works at the Al Ma'amil Clinic where staff performs nearly 2,000 consultations per week for adults and children; collects morbidity data; and carries out an EPI vaccination program (basic vaccination package for children). The clinic also houses a pharmacy.
During June and July, the team performed a Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) screening of 1,343 children between 6 months and 5 years old in the two clinics. The results showed 1.4% of the children were severely malnourished and 6% suffered from moderate malnutrition. These percentages are quite low, especially since the children screened were already ill, indicating that there was probably no major food problem. Further screening will continue, though.
The team is in the process of renovating a building in Al-Obiedi that will house a third Primary Health Center (PHC) and construct facilities for maternal health care at in Al Ma'amil.
MSF is helping to re-establish diagnostic testing facilities in the public health laboratories of Baghdad and 9 other governates in the upper south region of Iraq, through the provision of equipment, reagents and materials.
MSF supports three primary health care centers in Basra and 13 in Maysan governate with supplies to fill current shortages in drugs and laboratory equipment for the treatment of chronic and infectious diseases. MSF is also rehabilitating the central public health laboratory in Amarah, Maysan governate.
MSF continues distributing SSG (Sodium Stibogluconate) to pediatric and selected district hospitals in the Governates of Al Anbar, Karbala, Al Najaf, Al Qadisiyah, Al Muthanna and Thi-qar in order to treat the infectious disease Kala Azar.
In the near future, MSF plans to focus activities on delivering basic health care and antenatal health care in more remote primary health centers around Amarah. Many women do not have access to maternity and women's health care in these areas.
Recent assessments have been carried among the displaced people in Diyala governate, who are moving from the north of the country. Currently, many of these families are living in disused former military camps, where over-crowding and lack of water, sanitation and hygiene pose public health problems. MSF is planning to provide basic health and mother and child healthcare.
MSF evacuated its staff from Basra because of the deteriorating security situation. The MSF team has relocated to Kuwait and will immediately review its programs and options for the future.
The evacuation followed a series of bomb and grenade attacks that were initially focused on the coalition military forces. The attacks have occurred in public areas and on foreigners or symbols of foreign presence like journalists and aid workers.
Iraqi health workers are increasingly targeted and threatened and even abducted for ransom. A few weeks ago, an international ICRC staff member was killed in an attack on their car.
The developing insecurity and the increased number of attacks and threats against aid workers is a clear indication that the division between military and humanitarian action is not respected by the armed groups who are active in the country.