More than two year since the battle between the Islamic State (IS) group and the Iraqi forces officially ended in Mosul, Iraq, the healthcare system remains fragile with thousands of families struggling to access quality affordable health care and even the community’s primary health care ne remaining unmet. Among the most vulnerable are pregnant women, many of whom have been pushed to deliver at home with untrained traditional midwives, either because they cannot afford the fee for delivery or because maternity services are overcrowded or completely absent in their area, as well as their newborn babies who cannot wait for care because the health system is not ready for them.
In order to respond to this high unmet need, in 2017 MSF opened a specialised maternity unit in Nablus Hospital, west Mosul, to provide safe, high quality and free maternal and neonatal care to women and their babies in an area of the city where the community and the health system continue to struggle. In July this year, a second MSF team opened a smaller facility at Al Rafadain Primary Health Care Centre, also in west Mosul, providing routine obstetric and newborn care and offering local women another safe place to deliver even closer to home.
Combined, these two facilities are staffed with almost all female teams of skilled Iraqi staff and international mentors that welcome almost 170 babies each week. The teams also offer high quality care to sick and premature newborns, family planning services and gynaecological consultations. While these services are well received by the community, they, along with the other government-run maternities, are not sufficient to provide high quality care for Mosul’s population estimated to be around 1.8 million people.