Three years after Iraq declared liberation from the Islamic State group (IS), the devastated city of Mosul faces the dual challenges of dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases while struggling to provide basic health services.
Health experts said the fragile health system struggles to meet the basic health needs of the population and is not capable of dealing with a crisis such as the COVID-19, as fierce battle and heavy bombing have left the old city of Mosul still in rubble.
CHALLENGE UPON CHALLENGE
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased health challenges in Mosul, capital of Nineveh province and second-largest city of Iraq, where residents still confront massive health needs after brutal battles from 2016 to 2017.
On June 25, 2017, Nablus Field Hospital was established by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to receive trauma cases from the front line of the battle as Iraqi forces liberated the old city.
"The city is lacking all types of health services, from primary to specialist health care," Abdlrhman Thnoon, MSF Project Coordinator Support at Nablus Field Hospital, told Xinhua.
According to Sharma, the field hospital receives some 10,000 patients in emergency rooms each month, and a large number of babies were born at the hospital in September.
"Everyone in the health system-all hospitals, all health care providers-feel the heat," Sharma added.
HEALTH SYSTEMS DESTROYED
As of Monday, Nineveh province has recorded 19,623 cases and 452 deaths from COVID-19.
Falah Hassan al-Taie, director general of Nineveh's Health Department, said the province had 18 hospitals and 192 health centers before the occupation of IS in 2014.
"They were all destroyed, and some of them were destroyed 100 percent, especially in the old city of Mosul," al-Taie said. "Only two hospitals have been rebuilt. Some are operating in the same destroyed locations. The rest are operating in alternative locations."
Only 2,800 hospital beds and 235 ambulances are available for the population of the province, according to al-Taie. However, the World Health Organization has warned that in November the province saw an increase of 36 percent in COVID-19 cases in a single week.
"We have been able to serve people through our own efforts and the efforts of charitable organizations, but unfortunately health assistance is not commensurate with the destruction that befell this province," al-Taie told Xinhua.
FURTHER RISKS IN WINTER
In east Mosul, al-Salam hospital once was the biggest hospital in the area, but its main building was occupied by IS and then destroyed. With the support of MSF, a 16-bed ICU ward has been established to receive severe COVID-19 cases in Mosul.
However, the old city lies still in ruins along the Tigris. Some returnees are living in harsh conditions in winter, lacking basic electricity and food supplies. Wearing masks and keeping social distance is not possible for them.
Experts warn that the risk of catching the coronavirus will increase as cold winter weather forces people inside.
"Many people, including my friends, are infected with the coronavirus," Mohammed said. "They do not go to a hospital because there is no treatment."
"The scope of the crisis is higher because of limited testing capacity," said Claire San Filippo, MSF Emergency Project Coordinator in east Mosul.
She said, "It is very difficult to predict what is going to happen, but what we have seen is ongoing community transmission and low compliance of protective measures. We anticipate the number of cases will unfortunately increase."
Source (Click Here)