A nurse in Iraq: Health care still in ruins

Anna is working for Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Iraq. Today she blogs about the challenges of helping people get the medical treatment they need in an area still feeling the impact of years of war...

After years of conflict and instability, the health sector in certain areas in Iraq has almost ground to a halt. Many health facilities have been destroyed and there are often gaps in the availability of services, medical supplies and qualified health workers.

A patient's blood pressure is checked at the MSF clinic. The 'No Weapons' symbol can be seen displayed in the window

The clinic sees patients who suffer from non-infectious diseases, such as high blood pressure. Photo: Anna Blideman / MSF

Today, in the non-communicable disease clinic, we had a patient that needed more care than we could offer so we called the ambulance. They didn’t pick up.

I called again and was promised that it would be sent straight away.

It didn’t come.

Half an hour later I called again: apparently the ambulance and the driver were ready but they didn’t have any fuel. I promised we would pay for the fuel.

When the ambulance came, they said we needed an authorisation stamp on the referral paper to allow them to remove the patient from the camp. The closest healthcare centre who could provide the stamp was closed. We called the director at a healthcare centre in another village who luckily came and stamped the referral paper.

We were finally ready to leave when the stretcher in the ambulance broke and we had to lay the patient on the ground and then squeeze him inside.

Every day has its own challenge.

You can read Anna's posts in the original Swedish here.