Mosul’s health care in ruins a year after the battle

Less than 1,000 hospital beds are available for a population of 1.8 million people

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 05, 2017 An Iraqi woman, carrying an infant, walks by the destroyed Al-Nuri Mosque as she flees from the Old City of Mosul on July 5, 2017, during the Iraqi government forces' offensive to retake the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. Iraqi forces announced the "liberation" of the country's second city on July 10, 2017, after a bloody nine-month offensive to end the Islamic State (IS) group's three-year rule there. 
Scores of people are still displaced in and around Mosul as the city lies in ruins, one year after it was retaken from IS. 

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Healthcare facilities in Mosul remain a fraction of their pre-war capacity, a year after Iraqi forces declared victory over ISIS in the city.

“Healthcare capacity has been reduced by 70 per cent – reconstruction has been slow and its progression has been very limited,” said Wissam Al Nassar, head of mission advisor in Iraq for Doctors without Borders (MSF).

Scars of the nine-month battle remain visible across the city, with much infrastructure still in ruins, and unexploded munitions complicating clean-up efforts.

“The impact of war is still evident, especially in west Mosul as the level of destruction was so great,” said James Mathews, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Nine of the city's hospitals were damaged in fighting, meaning adequate health care remains out of reach for many civilians. Mosul once had 3,500 hospital beds, but today that figure is less than 1,000. For a city of more than a million people this is well below international minimum standards.

Since being shot in the leg and back in March last year, 42-year-old Nashwan said he had been unable to undergo an operation necessary to relieve the pain. "When I was at home, the pain started to grow in my leg and hip and eventually it was unbearable," Nashwan said in testimony provided to The National by MSF.


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The general hospital in west Mosul told Nashwan it didn't have the capacity to operate.

“Life has been really hard, he said. "My injury has impacted negatively on my life and family."

Zainab, 45, injured her leg running through the streets of Mosul to escape fighting.

"I stepped on an improvised explosive device and I lost consciousness," she said in testimony provided to The National by MSF.

She underwent 15 operations in private hospitals, and is awaiting more. “The healthcare situation in Mosul is so bad because all the hospitals are destroyed," she said.

More than 380,000 people are still displaced from their homes, with an estimated eight million tonnes of debris remaining in the city, the Norwegian Refugee Council said.

"What was hailed by the Iraqi authorities and the international community as a victory a year ago has not translated to relief from abject misery for many Iraqis from Mosul," NRC's Iraq country director Wolfgang Gressmann said.

"One year on, they are still waiting to return to normality and the international community is not helping enough."