As a result of years of conflict, Iraq’s national health system suffers from limited availability of primary healthcare (PHC) services, a lack of sufficient trained health personnel, destroyed or inadequate healthcare infrastructure and shortages of medicines and medical supplies.
IDPs live in precarious conditions in camps and informal settlements. These communities face poor hygiene and sanitation conditions, insufficient access to PHC services — including maternal and child health care — inadequate nutrition and limited preventive and curative health care for communicable diseases. Areas of return face similar challenges, with communities and returnees unable to access adequate health services.
IOM Iraq works to bolster the Government of Iraq’s (GoI) limited capacity to meet the health needs of IDPs, returnees and host community members.
- Primary Health Care
In addition to supplying health facilities with medical and personal protective equipment (PPE), IOM Iraq helps to provide PHC through access points including PHC mobile medical teams (MMT) and static clinics, where patients can also receive referrals to secondary or tertiary health facilities. Both emergency and non-emergency transportation to health facilities is provided for patients. IOM Iraq is the only organization in Iraq that provides full ophthalmological services, especially for school aged children. This is supplemented by an MMT exclusively dedicated to ophthalmological service provision.
- Tuberculosis Response
Iraq has faced a resurgence of tuberculosis (TB) since the mid-1990’s, exacerbated by recent waves of violence. In response, IOM works to strengthen the role of the Iraqi National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) in fighting TB and reducing the burden it places on the health system. IOM supports the procurement of TB medications, laboratory supplies, training for NTP staff and medical equipment for NTP centres, also deploying TB MMTs that perform screening and provide transportation for TB investigation and treatment.
- Health Awareness
IOM Iraq runs health awareness activities to close the information gap around disease signs and symptoms, modes of transmission, treatment and preventive measures. These projects cover COVID-19, TB, diarrhoea, respiratory illnesses, skin diseases and general hygiene practices to enhance public knowledge and reduce transmission of infectious diseases.
As part of its COVID-19 response, IOM operates in camps and communities across Iraq to support both inpatient and outpatient facilities by supplementing staffing, equipment, supplies and COVID-19 screening and triage. To support the durability of COVID-19 interventions, teams provide technical guidance, capacity-building support and infection prevention and control training for facility staff, as well as training for airport and border crossing health staff on best practices in COVID-19 safety for Point of Entry activities. IOM also carries out risk communication and community engagement activities, providing equipment necessary for screening COVID-19 messages, hosting awareness and sensitization sessions and making information available in four languages: Arabic, Sorani, Badini, and English.
IOM works together with Iraqi authorities and Health Cluster partners to:
- Determine key COVID-19 response interventions and identify opportunities to increase disease surveillance
- Integrate COVID-19 prevention into Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services, including group discussions and counselling sessions
- Implement Cash for Work activities that simultaneously contribute to providing short-term livelihood opportunities and supporting COVID-19 response — examples include cash for cleaning health facilities and sewing personal protective equipment
- Leverage online platforms to enable Community Resource Centres to carry out COVID-safe activities such as online awareness sessions, catch-up classes for school children in 9th to 12th grade and the registration of beneficiary needs.