Iraq: New Surgical Program Treats Wounded in Eastern Mosul

IRAQ 2018 © Sacha Myers/MSF

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened a medical facility today in eastern Mosul, Iraq, to provide comprehensive postoperative care to people injured during the devastating conflict to take control of the city from the Islamic State group, which culminated in heavy fighting last year.

"Many war-wounded patients need follow-up care," said Heman Nagarathnam, MSF head of mission in Iraq. "They often received hasty surgery on or behind the front lines to save their lives, and now they need additional surgery, pain management, and physiotherapy to regain use of damaged limbs and muscles."

The facility is located at the Al'Salaam and Al'Shifaa hospital complex and includes a mobile operating theater, a 33-bed inpatient ward, mental health services, and a rehabilitation unit, which will be run in partnership with Handicap International.

Mosul's health system was severely damaged during the conflict, and there remains an urgent need for new medical facilities. 

"Mosul had one of the best health care systems in Iraq, but the conflict took a staggering toll on health infrastructure, medical personnel, and equipment," Nagarathnam said. "There used to be more than 3,500 beds available in Mosul's hospitals. But nine hospitals were completely destroyed in the fighting and now there are less than 1,000 beds available. As a result, people in Mosul often struggle to access health care."

MSF's new facility will provide surgeries, postoperative care, and rehabilitation for patients who suffered accidental or violent trauma. The facility is run by a team of 30 Iraqi and international staff members. Trauma patients who need urgent care will be referred to the MSF surgery and post-operative care facility from public facilities in Mosul, according to medical criteria. MSF's medical services are provided free of charge.

In 2017, MSF worked in and around Mosul to provide lifesaving services to people caught in the violence. The organization ran several trauma stabilization posts in eastern and western Mosul, and managed four projects in hospitals offering a range of services including emergency and intensive care, surgery and maternal health care. MSF currently runs a hospital in western Mosul and is building a new emergency room at Al'Salaam hospital.

MSF has been working in Iraq since 1991 and currently has medical projects in eight governorates. From July to December 2017, MSF provided 28,658 emergency room consultations and performed almost 2,000 surgeries.

MSF offers neutral and impartial medical assistance, regardless of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation. To ensure its independence, MSF does not accept funding from any government or international agency for its programs in Iraq, relying solely on private donations from the general public around the world to carry out its work.