Iraq | News | WHO providing health care to Syrian refugees in and outside the camps


WHO providing health care to Syrian refugees in and outside the camps

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Syrian refugees receiving wheelchairs in the Domiz camp"The current security situation in Syria along with the aspiration to protect my children forced me to leave my home," said Samira a middle-aged Syrian mother who fled home with her four children, seven months ago.

"We are living in precarious conditions in a crowded place but,  Alhamdu Lillah we are safe and healthy receiving food and health care services free of charge”. Samira said with tears in her eyes.

Samira Jaffar vaccinated her children and visited the primary health care centres inside Domiz camp several times.

“Although, we had to wait long hours to see a doctor and receive medication, but I could not stand watching my children sick, therefore, I take every opportunity to visit the primary health care centre when needed," she added.

A major effort is being made by the Government of Iraq in collaboration with the humanitarian partners to improve the health situation, by providing safe food and drinking water and enhance healthy environment for Syrian refugees. The Ministry of Health, Iraq through the Departments of Health in Dohuk and Anbar, with the technical support and assistance of WHO and other humanitarian partners has been running four health clinics in the camps providing  comprehensive package of essential health services - free of charge. 

They are also providing similar services for the Syrian refuges living outside the camp through their existing heath care centres and hospitals.

The four clinics inside the camps along with the mental health care center offer medical consultations, education and psychosocial support to the Syrian refugees. Up to now, 49 health workers in the two camps have provided more than 30 000 consultations, of which 15 000 were for females and 14 200 for males.

As part of its humanitarian intervention for Syrian refugees, the World Health Organization along with other humanitarian partners supported the Ministry of Health/Departments of Health in both governorates conducting a joint field assessment aimed at better understanding of health conditions, services provided and needs of Syrian refugees in Iraq. The assessment targeted Syrians residing inside the camps and within the host community in the Anbar and Dohuk governorate.

The assessment identifies that children, women, elderly and people with disabilities among the refugees are considered to be more at risk in terms of chronic diseases, psychosocial and violence related illnesses. In addition it was also  found that there is a shortage of medicine supply especially for chronic diseases, with no facilities for people with disabilities. There is a dire need to build the capacity of the health workers in the areas of surveillance, in order to prevent any communicable disease outbreak.

WHO, based on the assessment, has provided the Directorate of Health medicines that cover the needs for 3 to 5 months. 150 wheel chairs and other medical supplies,  including 33 Interagency emergency health kits (IEHK) hygiene kits, vaccination services, and health education has been provided to Syrian refugees. Also supported the Ministry of Health Iraq to implement measures to detect and control disease outbreaks. Furthermore, WHO  contributed towards the establishment of clinics and building the capacity of the medical staff in both refugee camps, as well in outreach communities.

Despite all the  efforts and the existing levels of assistance, there is a urgent need to strengthen the capacity of the local health institutions, as the influx of the Syrian refugees into Iraq is predicted to escalate.

The situation in the camps is deteriorating, as arrival of new refugees has been increased dramatically over the last month, leading to increased risk of disease outbreaks and also overburdening the health system Domiz camp is receiving almost 500 Syrian refugees every day. Both camps have become overcrowded, and the capacity of the camp is almost full with total of 101 000 registered Syrian refugees.

Key health-related statistics

Total population 33 227
Total health expenditure on health (% of GDP) 8.0
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) 24.0
Number of primary health care units and centres (per 10 000 population) 0.7
Total life expectancy at birth (years) 72.7

Source: Country statistical profiles (2013)

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