Print

Page 2 of 5

image Click for more images

“People here are very desperate, so when we come, they are very happy to see us,” says Dr. Karam Nahal, a general practitioner who works with the mobile clinic in the morning while filling the afternoon and night shifts at a hospital in Zakho. Dr. Nahal is himself displaced from Mosul.

The most common ailments Dr. Nahal encounters include influenza and bronchitis caused by cold weather and poorly heated homes, and skin diseases and urinary infections resulting from poor hygiene and overcrowded dwellings. But Dr. Nahal says he also sees many patients suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension and even cancer.

In Mergasora, a village of bare one-level homes and farm animals, men and women wait on plastic chairs for their turn with the doctor. Some elderly Yazidi women wear traditional white headdresses. Children frolic, turning a deaf ear to dispirited-looking parents trying to rein them in. The patients carry numbers they received after they registered with the mobile clinic’s administrator.

Eid Faleh, 22, enters the village’s public hall, which currently serves as the clinic space, overlooking the valley. Carrying a large, transparent folder full of medical reports, prescriptions and an X-ray scan, he helps his elderly mother sit down.

“She has been feeling very tired lately,” says Mr. Faleh, a shepherd who fled Mosul after ISIS killed his cousin. His mother, Naima Khalif, had her breast removed because of a malignant tumor. There are fears, however, that cancerous cells have spread to her blood vessels. Mr. Faleh says that in Mosul his mother underwent chemotherapy but that in this Kurdish village they had no means to treat her.

Unfortunately, the drugs she needed were not available at the mobile clinic. The doctor could only prescribe painkillers to ease her suffering.

Later, making the most of the clinic’s visit, Mrs. Khalif brings her grandchildren to the doctor for a checkup.

“There are many cases that we are unable to treat,” says Sandar Salem, who oversees the daily operations of the mobile clinic. Difficult medical cases are usually referred to specialists in Zakho. But transportation, even to nearby cities, remains a prohibitively costly option.

The situation of the displaced is dire all over Kurdistan. Yet the presence of well-equipped free medical facilities — such as those supported by generous CNEWA donors in urban centers such as Dohuk and Erbil — makes it easier for displaced people to receive medical care. These centers, created as a response to the refugee crisis in August 2014, typically include specialized pediatrics and gynecology clinics, X-ray and medical labs and even dental services.

The mobile clinic has far fewer resources, however, particularly where psychological concerns arise. Out of work for many months after losing their homes and possessions, people feel hopeless and powerless. Depression is common. This translates physically into loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, sleep disorders and, sometimes, erratic behavior.

“Today, I examined a 40-year-old woman who suffers from an obsessive compulsive disorder,” says Dr. Nahal. “She washes a chicken five times but still doesn’t find it clean enough.”

Post a Comment | Comments(0)

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |