Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Northern Iraq

In early April I returned to northern Iraq to spend time with the Iraq Mental Health (IMHI) Program that IRD implements throughout Kurdistan and in some parts of Southern Iraq.  This was a very special trip as my colleague and friend, Lali Chania, met me there to also be a part of the monitoring and overall health assessment. 
The program is moving along very well.  The IMHI team have so far held a number of very important workshops for clerics, health professionals, the media, government representatives, and civil society activists hosting groundbreaking discussions on the importance of mental health awareness in the communities and the roles each of those professional sectors play in building that awareness and reducing the stigma associated with mental health.  They are implementing a nationwide mental health awareness campaign and have developed TV, radio and newspaper spots that are advertised throughout Iraq.  And they have trained general practitioners and other health service providers, psychologists and social workers in best practices for delivering quality psychosocial care for the general population with a focus on children and trauma victims.
During this trip we visited a camp that is home to many displaced families that have fled the violence in Mosul.  Unlike the refugees in Jordan, who are relatively integrated into the communities, the displaced populations within Iraq are living in the standard UNHCR tent camps and have very little services available to them.   Lali and I held a focus group discussion with women from the camp to discuss their health needs, which were many as you can imagine.

In addition to meeting with local partners, ministry representatives and local health organizations, we had the opportunity to spend some very nice time with the IMHI staff and their families, dancing to Kurdish music, listening to Dr. Rawisht play the Kurdish Lute, and then the finale being wowed by Lali playing “itsy bitsy spider” on the lute. 

For more pictures from Northern Iraq visit: my photo site!

1 comment:

Luckshmi Sivalingam said...

Your blog is inspirational. Dawn, how do you get the layout to be wide so that the blog entry isn't a narrow vertical strip? Hope all is well in Amman!