More than 17% of Iraq’s growing population, estimated by the World Population Review to reach 37 million later this year, live without regular access to local health services.
In a country that is slowly rebuilding its infrastructure following years of sanctions and trading restrictions as a result of conflict and war, diseases like polio, that can be easily vaccinated against in the western world, threaten millions. However, one initiative in Al-Dayr, a community home to more than 100,000 in Basrah Province, is working to make a difference for many families on the ground.
Women Health Volunteers Network
Long term partners Shell Iraq Petroleum Development (SIPD) and The AMAR International Charitable Foundationare developing health outreach programmes to directly tackle the issue. In the vicinity of Shell Iraq Petroleum Development B.V (SIPD) Majnoon oilfield operation, the partners will deliver education sessions in 62 local schools as well as training primary health care centre staff.
AMAR will also establish a network of 40 Women Health Volunteers (WHVs) to service more than 2000 local families. Delivering through the WHVs is an important part of AMAR’s operating model in Iraq and continues to be instrumental in assisting communities with limited access to health care.
The local women are trained by experts to deliver basic health care and education, provide advice on hygiene standards and assess medical referrals in remote towns and villages. The recruitment and initial training of 20 WHVs is underway, with the full programme scheduled to start next month.
In addition regular training for Ministry of Health staff will further build local capacity and support continuous improvement in overall standards. Implementation of the programme will be staged over the next three years before the Basrah Directorate of Health and Directorate of Education assumes full responsibility.
A similar programme is already established in nearby Al-Nashwa with projects running successfully since June 2011.
In that time, 24 WHVs have conducted 45,854 home visits. Through these home visits, the WHVs reached an average of 4,094 people each month throughout 2014. Health education in schools project has expanded in Al-Nashwa to reach 35 schools – initially there were just six.
A total of 6,040 education sessions were carried out between June 2011 and December 2014. Primary health care centre staff also supported initiatives to improve access to clean water with 2,400 water chlorine tablets distributed in remote communities last year.
AMAR’s Chairman, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, praised the joint venture, commenting: “AMAR and Shell have a successful history of working together, making a real difference to communities throughout the Majnoon area.
“Without Shell’s support the majority of this work would not be possible. We are especially pleased the partnership is expanding into Al-Dayr where we can reach those most in need.”
Shell signed a Memorandum of Understanding with AMAR in December 2014 to formalise their growing working relationship. The MoU was signed by Hans Nijkamp, Chairman of Shell Companies in Iraq and Baroness Nicholson.
The five-year-old partnership continues to go from strength to strength as together they deliver access to health care, education and training to many tens of thousands of people living in and around communities close Majnoon oilfield, Southern Iraq.
 Source: World Health Organisation