Pregnant Syrian refugees wait for consultations at a maternal health clinic run by Doctors Without Borders at a refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region. Photo: UNHCR
Erbil, , Kurdistan Region – Erbil health authorities have warned of a shortage of anesthesia in the city's maternity hospitals as the numbers of displaced people and refugees in the region have placed extra demand on the health care facilities.
Dr. Saman Barzinji, head of Erbil General Health, said on Sunday that anesthesia medicines are in short supply and had to reduce the numbers of operations being conducted across maternity hospitals in the city.
Barzinji said that they have repeatedly called on "international organizations to seriously assist" them, but what they receive does not meet the increased needs.
"If it goes on this way, we will be obliged to halt the list of surgeries in the biggest hospital of Erbil," he warned, referring to the Erbil Maternity Hospital.
Taking part in Rudaw TV’s Hotline program on Sunday, Dr. Mahabad Sheikhani said, "Eighty percent of patients admitted to Erbil maternity hospitals are refugees from Mosul."
Many physicians have raised the alarm, saying that if this shortage is not met urgently, the lives of many mothers and babies would be at stake in the coming days.
Dr. Khalis Qadir, spokesperson for the Health Ministry, put the blame on international organizations who, he said, "have failed to respond to their needs."
Asked whether or not the Iraqi government has assisted them, Qadir replied, "They are having the same problem as we are."
An estimated 1.8 million refugees from Syria and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from other parts of Iraq have taken shelter in the Kurdistan Region since 2014.
Health officials in Erbil have voiced their concerns several times over deteriorating situations in the city's hospitals as they are overwhelmed by thousands of wounded civilian and soldiers brought from Mosul in the ongoing offensive to retake the city from ISIS.
During a visit to Erbil in early December, Hazim Jumaili, Iraq's deputy health minister, admitted that both the Iraqi government and the KRG were dealing with a severe humanitarian crisis.
Medical facilities in liberated east Mosul were severely damaged in the fighting. Salam Hospital, formerly a top health centre in Mosul, is now “destroyed,” Ayad Ibrahim, a staff worker at the hospital, told Rudaw last week. Smaller medical centres have been opened but are lacking medicines and basic equipment.