In partnership with the Iraq Ministry of Health (MoH), International Medical Corps has implemented a national Emergency Medicine Care Development program for Iraq. With funding from AusAID, this is the first in-depth attempt to overhaul and expand the civilian emergency infrastructure for the country.
This collaborative program helps focus resources on Iraqis’ much needed access to quality emergency care. A comprehensive reform package, the program addresses Iraq’s critical requirement for essential emergency medical services on numerous levels, including policy formation, capacity building, continuing education, and technical assistance.
On the policy level, International Medical Corps and the MoH have together sponsored the formation of the Iraqi Emergency Medicine Working Group (EMWG), which has assembled the various actors involved in Iraq’s emergency care. International Medical Corps has further supported the EMWG in designing a formal five-year national strategy for emergency care, which was accepted by the MoH in 2008.
“As an international NGO with a long history of working in Iraq, International Medical Corps was perfectly positioned to spearhead this project,” says Dr. Ross Donaldson, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at UCLA and Program Manager for the project. “This last year has shown dramatic improvements in the emergency medicine infrastructure in Iraq. It is really amazing that so much has gotten accomplished in such a short time, which is definitely a credit to the Ministry of Health and many dedicated Iraqi doctors.”
Despite a history of violence and trauma in the country, formal emergency care was previously very limited in Iraq. Improvements over the last year as part of the emergency medicine development project include the establishment a pre-hospital training program to certify 700 pre-hospital providers across Iraq as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) – the first such effort ever to train EMTs in the country.
The program also focuses on educating doctors currently working in emergency departments across Iraq. In a month long course involving theoretical lectures, practical trainings, and real clinical experiences, these physicians learn up-to-date advanced life support skills. To date, 44 physicians have been trained with a total of 300 slotted for instruction over the next year.