Mosul location where MSF worked/Credit: Doctors Without Borders
Mosul location where MSF worked/Credit: Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders suspends medical aid in Mosul, citing bureaucracy

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders has suspended “critical” medical operations in two Mosul hospitals Wednesday, attributing the decision an Iraqi bureaucracy that has delayed the delivery of supplies.

“Key medical operations have been halted at two healthcare facilities… after stocks of medications and supplies fell critically low,” stated a press release from Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF.

The group’s efforts are vital in the northern Iraqi city, where the healthcare sector still struggles to recover from years of war and neglect.

Six years after Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State group, much of Mosul — where the jihadists declared their “caliphate” — remains in ruins, with public services slowly being rebuilt.

MSF linked the suspension to the “protracted, complicated, and opaque official processes which have hindered MSF from ensuring a reliable supply to the projects through Baghdad International Airport and from transporting them within Iraq”.

The charity said it is suspending operations at two of the three MSF-run hospitals in Mosul — Al-Wahda hospital, where 220 patients received specialized orthopedic surgeries or postoperative care, and Al-Amal Maternity Hospital, where 2,496 deliveries occurred.

“It’s regrettable that we’ve had to halt critical operations since June 1 in both facilities,” said Fernando Galvan, MSF’s head of mission in Iraq.

MSF stated that one shipment was delayed at Baghdad’s airport for five months and when they finally received some items, many had “expired”.

Iraq’s transport ministry, the airport director, and the Civil Aviation Authority didn’t respond to AFP’s request for comment.

Galvan told AFP that MSF continues to offer some services at the two Mosul hospitals, including emergency maternity care.

“We can only resume our operations when we receive the necessary supplies,” he added.

MSF reported it was expecting 10 shipments totaling “12 tons of medications, medical supplies, and equipment” for its various projects in Iraq, urging authorities to facilitate their delivery.

In Mosul, six hospitals are under construction, and 11 other public facilities are currently operational, according to a local health ministry official.

In a report published last year, MSF stated that despite liberating Iraq from IS five years ago, Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, still requires health aid and a rebuilding of its healthcare infrastructure.

As of the end of 2021, the city had 1,800 beds for a population of 1.5 million, per official statistics.