Healing bodies and minds
Psychological care goes hand in hand with physiotherapy; it is vital to help patients recover from the traumas they experienced during the conflict. Since activities started at the BMRC, 163 patients have joined individual or group therapy sessions, and MSF teams have conducted 1,617 follow-up sessions. They also run occupational and art therapy services.
“Mental health teams are supporting patients during their follow-up at the BMRC. They address issues related both to the traumatic events our patients have been through, and to their daily medical care and rehabilitation that can last for months,” described Saima Zai, a mental health manager at the BMRC. “I remember an 11-year-old girl coming in for physiotherapy and being terrified about a new surgery she was going to face. The mental health team helped her and her mom handle the situation and they were both relieved at the end of the first session.”
A psychologist from Pakistan, Saima previously worked for MSF in Mosul, Iraq, and in Amman, Jordan. “In the Middle East, it is difficult to access mental health support in public hospitals,” she said. “ There is still a lot of stigma about it.”
A unique project in Iraq
After decades of war, Iraq faces a high incidence of post-operative infections, particularly of war wounds treated in inadequate conditions because of a lack of functional health facilities. Most of these infections are multi-drug resistant due to inappropriate diagnosis and overprescription of antibiotics.
The BMRC’s high-quality infection control and its expertise in antibiotic treatment and antibiotic resistance make it a unique initiative in Iraq. Patients receive a specific diagnosis for antibiotics based on medical examinations including bone sampling and sensitivity testing to ensure they receive the best care possible.
For complex medical or surgical cases, like bone infections, BMRC patients can be referred to MSF’s Reconstructive Surgery Program in Amman where more than 11,000 surgeries have been performed over the past 10 years on patients from Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Palestine.