On 20 January WHO distributed wheelchairs to all Syrians refugees living with disabilities in Dohok and Anbar governorates and medicines for chronic illnesses, including lifesaving antibiotics.
Ms Jacqueline Badcock, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Regional Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), expressed appreciation of WHO’s support, and praised the Director of Health of Dohuk and other UN partners for providing excellent support to the refugees. “I am confident that through such a coordinated response by the humanitarian community and the Government, Syrian refugees will feel that they have access to all essential services”, she said. Ms Badcock also praised UNHCR and the camp coordination mechanism established by them.
Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative for Iraq, said, “WHO is working with the Ministry of Health to provide equal access to basic health services for Syrian refugees, particularly people with disabilities both inside and outside the camp. The provision of wheelchairs has been possible through a grant received from UNAMI under the Quick Impact Project”. Dr Hussain thanked Ms Badcock and UNAMI for this support which had enabled refugees with physical disabilities to freely move in or outside the camp. He further added that WHO together with key UN partners was embarking upon innovative steps to ensure that services to refugees were delivered in a timely manner even when faced with insurmountable constraints. According to WHO, there are around 90 Syrian refugees with physical disabilities who have been confined to their tents with movement restricted.
Medicines for patients with chronic and acute illnesses were identified following a WHO/Ministry of Health assessment. The delivered quantity will meet the needs of patients visiting health centres for three to five months.
The procurement of wheelchairs was carried out by WHO through UNAMI funding support, based on UNHCR and WHO assessments.
Over the last two months WHO has provided 12 emergency health kits for both camp and non-camp refugees and is planning to provide camp management with 200 reading glasses to be distributed to children in need.
WHO joined a high-level UN delegation on 15 January 2013 visiting Domiz Camp in the Dohuk governorate, led by Ms Jacqueline Badcock, where they were able to assess the health situation, meet counterparts from the Government and national and international nongovernmental organizations in an effort to strengthen cooperation and address recent key challenges that had inhibited or affected the collaborative response.
“We must partner and double our efforts to ensure that the specific health needs of Syrian refugees inside and outside the camps in Iraq are met. They have the right to be healthy and live in a healthy environment”, Dr Hussain added.