IOM Iraq, Qatar’s Red Crescent Society Open Field Hospital in Mosul

Posted: 
03/17/17
Themes: 
Humanitarian Emergencies

Iraq - IOM Iraq, with Qatar’s Red Crescent Society (QRCS), officially opened its 50-bed field hospital in Mosul, boasting two operation theatres and post-operative care to receive and treat cases from internally displaced persons (IDPs) from West Mosul.

Set up in the Ninewa governorate, the field hospital also has an emergency department with 10 beds that can cater for serious emergency cases, including injuries.

With reports increasing that civilians inside Mosul are on the rise from mortar rounds, gunfire and bombs, from the battle between Iraqis and the coalition on one side and ISIL on the other, the services provided by the field hospital located in Hammam al-Alil, south West of Mosul, will be paramount.

Since its opening on Wednesday (15/03) IOM’s field hospital has been flooded with patients from West Mosul. The team received 30 cases of injuries on Wednesday and another 15 yesterday (16/03) and performed three general surgeries on war victims, including one orthopedic.

With the health system massively under-funded vis-à-vis the Mosul crisis and with less than a handful of trauma hospitals serving those injured from West Mosul, IOM’s field hospital will be vital in providing services to the entire catchment area south east of Mosul.

Located near the front lines, two adjacent houses of two floors each have been renovated by IOM in partnership with QRCS, to establish the much-needed field hospital in Hammam al-Alil, south East of Mosul.

With support and funds from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), QRCS and the Government of Kuwait, the field hospital is equipped with two operational theaters, an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), an X-ray unit to be installed soon, a laboratory unit, a pharmacy, sterilization unit and equipment as well as a blood bank to help it cope with the new exodus of displaced civilians pouring out from West Mosul.  

Blood supply from Mosul Blood Bank has also been arranged with Ninewa Department of Health coordinator and the Blood Bank manager, with a first shipment of 50 blood units already delivered.

A ward of 50 beds and an emergency department equipped with 10 beds have been set up to cater for the needs of patients and victims of war.

Ten specialist surgeons will lead the team and field hospital made of general, orthopedic, cardiologists, pediatric and vascular surgeons, as well as well as two anesthetics.

Another 10 general practitioners/physicians (GPs) have also been hired to deal with the IDPs' day-to-day ailments. A 42-member staff ranging from nurses, pharmacists to lab and X-ray technicians, also supports the team.

Two generators will be installed next Saturday (18/03) to ensure continuous power for patients and to operate equipment during the frequent power cuts in the area.

Another team of 25 non-medical staff has also been assigned to provide guards, ambulance drivers, registrars and to provide laundry, cooking and logistics services for the field hospital.

On Monday (13/03), a mobile clinic funded by DFID was transported to Hammam al-Alil camp where the bulk of IDPs first transit for registration and screening, before being transported to camps or out of camp locations.

Another mobile clinic donated by Kuwait will also be sent to Hammam al-Alil in the next week to cope with the influx of IDPs and provide the necessary on the ground health care needed by many. IOM Mobile teams are present at the screening zone and Hammam al-Alil daily, providing health service for newly arrivals IDPs. 

Many of the staff and members working in the field hospital are from Mosul itself. They come with both experience and knowledge of the needs of their people and the suffering they endured under ISIL.

Dr. Yousef Muayad, 47, is a GP and pediatrician who graduated from Mosul University in 1994. He also trained in child psychology in the United States. Until recently he was the head of administration in Mosul’s main Salam hospital, which was ISIL's number one hospital and once a major health center for people on the east side of Mosul.

“We were prisoners in a large prison and working in the hospital with ISIL rules and regulations was quite challenging,” Dr. Muayad said.

“I saw myself as a prisoner who could only move within a certain periphery. While it was my duty to remain as I had taken an oath, I could not send my children out to finish their education (also in medicine) for fear for their lives. Those who got caught leaving simply got killed,” he said.

Instead Dr. Muayad remained in Mosul serving in the hospital and his private clinic and, as he said, trying hard as the hospital administrator to protect the younger medics from the ire of ISIL.

On one occasion Dr. Muayad recounts receiving a sick 14-year-old girl in his clinic. An elderly man brought the girl who was suffering from a throat infection. She was dressed in a black loose gown with her face covered.

When he examined her and as he was writing her a prescription of antibiotics and in typical Arab form, he casually told the elderly man to take care of his young daughter.

“To my surprise, the man turned to me and said with a laugh, ‘This is not my daughter but my sabiya (sex slave).’”

“I felt numb, angry and helpless. She was only a child and there was nothing I could do to save her. It was just too awful,” he recounted.

Dr. Muayad speaks with excitement about his new post in IOM’s field hospital where he will be able to serve IDPs from his community.

But he also talks with bitterness about the days and times when Mosul was "occupied".  

In Hammam al-Alil transit reception where IDPs escaping from West Mosul were flooding in daily, an unattended young paraplegic girl lay helplessly on a stretcher, amongst the crowds. Family members taking turns carrying her had brought her out on a stretcher to safety. She arrived with a severe ear infection and her father pleaded for help. An IOM medic in the nearby mobile clinic, funded by DFID, immediately heeded his call and came to the scene. On checking the young girl, he administered the necessary medications and promised to check on her daily. 

More than 107,466 individuals (17,911 families) have fled West Mosul in the last 20 days according to IOM’s DTM, the first IDPs began leaving their areas on the 25th of February, 7 days after the start of the military operations by Iraqi forces to retake West Mosul.

The numbers include some of those who have opted to seek refuge out of camps. IOM’s DTM is adding out of camps locations and numbers as soon as the information is validated.

According to the authorities in Hammam al-Alil, the total number of IDP families that transited through the screening site from the beginning of the operations until Wednesday at 4 pm is 22,529 (135,174 individuals).

Just over 95,000 IDPs from West Mosul are sheltering in camps with the remainder staying in areas recaptured from ISIL in East Mosul.

IOM is now managing to collect information from authorities in Hammam al-Alil screening site. Reportedly - between 14 March at 4 pm and 15 March at 4 pm – 1,219 IDP families (estimated 7,314 individuals)

Since the beginning of the Mosul operations on October 17, 2016, the cumulative number of IDPs for both East and West reached 54,459 families (326,754 individuals.)

Currently 42,480 families (254,880 individuals) remain displaced with 11,979 families (71,874 individuals) returning home, mostly to the areas retaken in East Mosul.

The latest DTM Emergency Tracking figures on displacement from Mosul operations are available at: http://iraqdtm.iom.int/EmergencyTracking.aspx.

For further information, please contact IOM Iraq: Hala Jaber, Tel. +964 751 740 1654, Email: hjaberbent@iom.int 

IOM medics performing surgery at Hamman al-Alil Field Hospital. Photo_IOM Iraq 2017