MSF is responding to the emergence of a COVID-19 case in Laylan camp by setting up a 20-bed isolation and treatment facility. MSF is also implementing triage for COVID-19 at MSF's clinic in Laylan and raising awareness about prevention measures. However, due to the cramped and unhygienic conditions in the camps, it is almost impossible for people to take measures such as physical distancing and the isolation of suspect cases.
"In the camps where MSF provides medical care, families are congested inside single tents and have scarce access to adequate hygiene facilities," said Tetyana Pylypenko, MSF medical coordinator in Iraq. "Mixing with other camp residents is an unavoidable daily task, and without enough aid, people have no choice but to go out and seek any work to support their families, despite knowing the increased risk of infection."
In Laylan camp in Kirkuk governorate, MSF provides care for patients with noncommunicable diseases, mental health consultations, and sexual and reproductive health care services. People with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart and kidney diseases are particularly vulnerable to the virus and need continuous care, or they risk life-threatening consequences.
"It's critical that people in the camps have access to care for COVID-19 and to regular health services," added Badshah. "For MSF to continue to work across the country and adequately respond to the health needs, access and movement have to remain open."
In April, MSF started to support Iraqi health authorities in tackling COVID-19, shifting activities in its center for postoperative care in Mosul to isolate and treat people with COVID-19, and supporting the main facility for referral of COVID-19 patients in the region. In Baghdad, MSF has started supporting specialized intensive care, as well as infection prevention and control inside one of the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 treatment hospitals. MSF has also supported local health facilities in Erbil and Baghdad by providing technical and logistical support and staff training on infection prevention and control, while maintaining most of MSF's regular medical projects across the country.
MSF has been working in Iraq since 1991. With more than 1,500 staff in the country, MSF provides free, high-quality health care to people regardless of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation.
MSF delivers primary and secondary health care, services for expectant and new mothers, treatment for chronic diseases, surgery and rehabilitation for war-wounded patients, mental health support, and health education activities. MSF currently works in the governorates of Baghdad, Nineveh, Diyala, and Kirkuk. MSF has also supported local health facilities in the southern provinces of Najaf and Dhi Qar in recent months with preparedness for mass casualty incidents. In 2019, MSF provided more than 45,000 consultations for patients across Iraq for chronic diseases, as well as more than 34,000 consultations for maternal and reproductive health.