IMI's First Delegation to Iraq

Access to health related services remains difficult in conflict affected communities in Iraq and the Iraqi health care system is struggling to cope with the additional burden of internally displaced persons (IDPs). As stressed by the WHO 2009 Iraq Health Sector Needs Assessment, in order to facilitate the return of IDPs, conditions for reconciliation and return must be in place, and access to health services must improve. However, the living condition of the people of Iraq continues to deteriorate. In order to address these concerns, Imamia Medics International the IMI Iraq Initiative includes several components designed to serve the health needs of the Iraqi population and improve the national health system. The project was centered on an IMI Medical Humanitarian delegation of 52 individuals—mainly experts from the medical and allied fields--from the US, UK, Canada, India, Ireland, Pakistan and the UAE who visited several cities in Iraq, performing voluntary social and medical services, including complex procedures and trainings for colleagues and medical students in Iraq.

In addition to providing medical services, IMI delegates gained first-hand experience of the healthcare system and its challenges in Iraq. The humanitarian mission, therefore, also served as a fact-finding mission and laid a foundation for future projects in Iraq.

Complementing the medical service mission, the IMI Iraq Initiative involved the donation of medical equipment, instruments and goods exceeding one million USD in value, mainly through the efforts of Dr. Ali Reza Moosavi, to health clinics and programs in Iraq. In addition to pre-departure shipments of these goods, IMI delegates also took medical supplies with themselves, including valuable GI equipment donated by Riverside Medical Center through Dr. Saeed Bokhari, Dr. Qasim Jaffry and Dr Gulammehdi Sumar’s efforts. Small gifts were also taken for children living in poverty and/or at orphanages.

IMI delegates provided general and specialized care for hundreds of Iraqis over the duration of 2 weeks across various hospitals/clinics in Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Hilla. IMI delegates also examined patients in orphanages.

In addition, instruction and support was also provided regarding hospital/clinic administration and patient management. Examples include the initial setup of a sleep lab at Kufa Medical College and the creation of hourly schedules involving issues of personal hygiene, exercise, menu selection and arts and crafts, for inpatient psychiatric care in Najaf.

Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures were performed by many delegates covering the fields of Anesthesiology, Cardiology, Dentistry, ENT, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Maxillofacial Surgery, Neonatology, Nursing, Nutrition, Pathology, Pediatrics (General, Neurological, Infection Disease), Pharmacology, Pulmonology, Rheumatology and Urology.

The following are examples of some of the procedure performed by IMI delegates in Iraq:

  • Neonatal pediatric work in Kerbala and Neonatal care including newborn exam and rounds in Najaf.
  • EGD, Colonoscopy and ERCP in Najaf and Karbala as patients had presented with GERD, rectal bleeding, biliary stones, pancreatic cancer, cholangitis, choledocho-duodenal fistula and post-operative biliary leak.
  • Trans urethral bladder tumor resection for bladder tumor in Hilla
  • Rigid Ureteroscopy diagnostic and therapeutic for ureteric obstruction in Hilla and Kufa
  • Open pyelolithotomy in a child with large renal pelvic stone in Hilla
  • Exploration of Penis and Cavernotomy for post radiation Priapism(a very rare condition) in Hilla
  • Flexible ureteroscopy (introduced for the first time in Kufa) diagnostic for tumour in Kufa
  • Flexible cystoscopy (introduced for the first time in Kufa)
  • Specialized Thermafil aided endodontics on complex Upper Molar tooth was performed with three post graduates at the Najaf Specialist Dental Clinic.
  • It was an excellent once in a lifetime experience. Going with IMI enables us to be treated so well and we could see so many special places. 

    Sabina Syed
  • I want to thank you all for giving me such a great opportunity to be a part of your team (in Haiti). It was a unique experience and I really enjoyed working with you all. 

    Mitra Arjang
  • I cannot express the profound impact IMI has had on my life: from the incredible opportunity to serve on the Arbaeen Medical Mission to the insightful career guidance and special programs for Young Leaders that I’ve benefitted from!

    Mohammed Akbar
  • I graduated from medical college in Pakistan. Knowing I wanted to pursue a specialty in the US, I went through the routine process of studying for and clearing the USMLE's and becoming ECFMG certified. There are plenty of online forums that help you up to that stage. What happens after that and before you land a residency is something no one prepares you for. Even knowing a person who went through the process is not enough. I found the answers to all my questions about the process, its workings and methods at the IMI Career Guidance Seminar. I learnt more in the few hours I spent there than I did in months, yes months, of thorough research online and through the measly networking I was capable of as a foreign graduate. It is literally a live 'Medical Residency for Dummies', and you get great coffee and dinner to boot. I interacted with candidates like myself along with current residents, and doctors who are involved in hiring committees at hospitals. I learnt how to choose programs, how to strengthen my resume, what to seek and where, and even what to wear. I have a month before I apply, but after the seminar - I have more confidence in the 'how' of the process.  I walked in to the seminar hall a nervous wreck - armed with vague internet advice and the intimidation of an overwhelming process. I thought my average scores would filter me out of every hospital program - I left knowing I need to apply 'wisely', not 'widely'. I learnt how to identify and enhance my positives, and overcome my shortcomings. I understood how to streamline programs to apply to, how to contact them and the level of persistence to employ. I was made aware of the importance of and difference between clinical experience in the US and research experience, and how to add both to my resume. All this, and more, in just a few hours. I cannot stress enough the effects this seminar had on me. I am now realistic in my approach - versus the optimism fresh graduates tend to bring with them. You may choose not to believe me, but after the seminar I didn't just breathe a sigh of relief - I let slip a few tears as well. I knew what to do, how to do it and where to ask for assistance. 

    If InshAllah, I secure a residency in the upcoming match, I will owe the organizers and the speakers at the seminar more than they will take credit for. 

    Annie Agha
  • I just wanted to say thanks to everyone on this list for what proved to be a truly life-altering experience.  It was terrific working with all of you, except Farhaj...But seriously, Naeema and some of my other classmates know rather well that I had allowed medical school and the residency process to make me cynical and tired.  I'm happy to say though, that after a week of truly hard work, emotional challenge, and actually helping some people, I have returned home feeling refreshed and renewed.  As corny as this all sounds, I'm actually excited to be a doctor again.  I can't thank you all enough for that. So I'm hooked on relief work.  I hope that I have more opportunities to help in situations like this, and if possible, to work with you all again.

    P. Pratcha (IMI Relief: Haiti)
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