In November 2017, approximately 120 delegates from all over the world including Pakistan, Tanzania, Kenya, Bahrain, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, the US and UK, joined colleagues in Iraq for the 9th Annual IMI Arbaeen Medical Mission.
With the help of IMI Iraq Chapter, local doctors, paramedics and volunteers, IMI’s Arbaeen delegates were able to work in tandem to provide care and medications to more than 110,000 in need.
In addition to our main team of 120 working at the medical camps at the haram of Imam Hussain and Hazrat Abbas in Karbala, and team of 40 at the medical camp in the haram of Imam Ali in Najaf, IMI arranged doctors, medications and logistic support for 4 additional teams along the walk from Najaf to Karbala (Shd. Hussaini 172, MTP 594, Paknight 892) and inside the shrines. IMI doctors also worked alongside colleagues at Al Kafeel Hospital. IMI also donated medications to additional groups caring for the crowds in Karbala and clinics in Najaf to ensure even greater access to these necessary supplies.
In Karbala this year, as earlier years, the Trusts (Ataba) for the shrines of Imam Husain (AS) and Hazrat Abbas (AS) were instrumental in providing assistance for our medical camps and delegates.
After a day’s delay due to unforeseen circumstances of dust storms closing Najaf airport and stranding the majority of our delegates at various airports around the world, our medical camp orientation took place at Al Safeer Hospital on October 31, 2017.
The Karbala Medical Camps were established in front of the haram of Imam Hussain (AS) and Hazrat Abbas (AS) and provided 24 hour service until Arbaeen afternoon, November 11, 2018. Team members worked on a rotation schedule with four groups and three shifts every 24 hours (allowing each group 24 hours off between shifts). Each shift included multiple male and female physicians, nurses, pharmacists and administrative staff for intake and translation. Dental units were located at each camp and our eye-care division was set up at the Hazrat Abbas Camp.
Each camp had a triage setup where the patients were first seen and registered with general information like name, age, and symptoms. Patients with simple symptoms like pain and cold were given medication at the window. Patients needing more care like dressing for blisters, checking blood pressure or sugar, or referral to one of the specialty departments within the camp. Patients requiring hospitalization and further investigations were transferred to Al Safeer Hospital or Karbala Hospital for more serious conditions.
Every day, anywhere between 500-800 patients were triaged in each camp. Many of the incoming patients suffered from high blood pressure and raised blood sugar levels due to discontinued treatment for chronic diabetes and hypertension; many had never been diagnosed. This year, a number of patients came in with GI issues and associated weakness , as well as respiratory illnesses requiring nebulizing.
In addition to treatment, medications were also provided by IMI to all in need. To ensure all in need were able to benefit from access to necessary medications, IMI also donated medications to Ataba Husainia and Ataba Abasiya as well as the clinics set up for emergency assistance inside the shrines, at camps between the two shrines (bainul haramain) as well as 2 moakibs within Karbala.
Following Arbaeen, for the seventh year in a row, IMI also established a medical camp in the haram of Imam Ali, supported by Ataba Alawiya. The camp ran with two shifts from 9 am to 7 pm daily for 4 days. The unit was set up inside the Sahan, the basement area of the haram which served as a prime location for patients to be seen at the haram.
Hundreds of patients were seen with cases ranging from acute to the more chronic and complicated cases. In fact, our first patient was a young man having a seizure just at the entrance of the medical camp, minutes before we officially started!
The IMI Najaf team, comprised of specialists, general practitioners, dentists, pharmacists and nurses, was supported by Iraqi medical students, nurses and translators. In addition to being able to provide medical services to hundreds, this collaboration gave Iraqi students the opportunity to be trained and gain practical experience as well as learn about recent advances in medicine and exchange ideas for improving local health systems.
At the end of the annual medical mission, IMI donated medical supplies to maximize our lasting impact as well. Donations of medicine and equipment were made to Ataba Alawiya, Al Ekha' Charitable Clinic, Karbala, and for the care of students at the Al Zahra Orphanage School Clinic. Medications were also donated to Al Asar Clinic, Najaf and allowed the new clinic to begin serving the needy almost immediately.