The hospital MSF opened in Qayyarah last December is 60 km south of Mosul. Far away enough not to hear the sound of airstrikes and rocket fire but sufficiently close for the wounded to be brought in when medical facilities nearer the front line are no longer able to cope.
On February 18th, the Iraqi army launched an offensive with the support of an international coalition to retake west Mosul, the part of the city still under so-called Islamic State control.
The fighting has claimed many victims while large numbers of people living in neighborhoods gradually recaptured by the army continue to flee, some ending up in camps in Qayyarah. The MSF team is now caring for patients from west Mosul, displaced persons camps, the town and the region.
The MSF team treats medical and surgical emergencies as the hospital in Qayyarah has an emergency room, operating theater and inpatient departments. The level of activity is extremely intense — between January and March, more than 3,750 patients were admitted to the emergency room.
A 4-bed intensive care unit was recently opened to provide care for burn victims, patients in shock and other critical conditions.
The team in the emergency room sees casualties wounded in airstrikes and explosions or by mortar fire — like this man (right) whose hand has been seriously injured by a landmine.
Away from major roads there are still mines that occasionally injure children, farm workers and shepherds. This young man (left) who’s just arrived with his father is suffering from shrapnel wounds. But in west Mosul it’s sometimes whole families who fall victim to the fighting.
Ana Leticia, MSF emergency doctor, recalls the story of a family caught in an explosion while trying to escape west Mosul.
The mother was in a state of shock when she arrived. Her 12-year old daughter looked after her little brothers and sisters while waiting for her mother to be cared for by the MSF psychiatrist and get better.
MSF has set up mental health consultations in Qayyarah for patients from the hospital and displaced persons’ camps. The team — a psychiatrist, two psychologists and a counsellor — treat adults and children alike.
Joëlle, MSF psychiatrist, describes the difficulties some mothers encounter with their children affected by the violence.
MSF hospital in Qayyarah is the only hospital structure that is properly set up that to receive children in the area of Ninewa so far. As a result, around half of all patients receiving treatment in the emergency room are under the age of 15.
And of the 192 patients who attended a mental health consultation from the beginning of February to mid-April, 30 were children under the age of 13.
Duha, twice victim of the violence
8-year old Duha and her family lived in west Mosul. Last month their home was hit in an airstrike. Her mother and father and 16 other people in the house at the time were all killed in the bombing.
Duha was the sole survivor. A neighbor dug her out of the rubble and her head, hands and one leg were severely burned. She now lives in east Mosul with her uncle who brings her to the hospital regularly to have her dressings changed.
Children from west Mosul malnourished
As the Iraqi army advanced into west Mosul, families were able to escape. And MSF team has been seeing children with acute malnutrition. They have been affected by food shortages in besieged West Mosul.
To treat malnourished children, MSF has set up a 12-bed therapeutic feeding center in Qayyarah hospital. And most of the children are under six months, as explains Ana Leticia, MSF emergency doctor.