Six years of healing wounds at Al-Wahda: MSF hands over activities at hospital in East Mosul

AL-Wahda Hospital
7 May 2024
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Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is handing over its medical services at Al-Wahda hospital for orthopaedic surgeries and comprehensive post-operative care in East Mosul to the Directorate of Health (DoH), after six years of providing surgical care in the aftermath of the war in Mosul. This decision comes as Mosul advances in its recovery journey after years of deadly battles.

When I compare Mosul today to what I saw during my last visit, I see that the city is recovering: the roads, the hospitals, the schools, its neighbourhoods. Although it is slow, it is surely happening", says Gilberta Jayros, MSF medical lead in Mosul. Gilberta first came to Mosul as an operating theatre nurse when the war in Mosul was ongoing.


Healing the scars of war

MSF opened the Al-Wahda hospital in April 2018 in response to the urgent need for surgical and post-surgical care for people wounded during the war. The facility started with a mobile surgical operating theatre and a 40-bed inpatient department where patients could stay until they recovered enough to go home. Back then, Mosul’s ability to meet the community’s healthcare needs was critically low, both due to the number of people requiring care as well as major damages to the city’s main healthcare facilities that rendered them out of service.

During the war, we were displaced many times, our days were dark and sad. When we finally returned home after the war, nothing was working as it used to be before. Nothing was spared. The healthcare sector was among the hardest hit ones in the city", says Taha Hussein, MSF health promoter at Al-Wahda.

Soon after the hospital started receiving the first war-wounded, the true extent of people’s medical needs became more evident. In response, MSF decided to expand the hospital’s bed capacity and admission criteria to accommodate more patients.

"I couldn't stand on my feet for a long time, and my condition was only getting worse. I came here and I received all the treatment I needed for free. The care was comprehensive, and now I feel much better than before.", says Saddam Abdul-Munim, who started receiving treatment at Al-Wahda hospital in 2019.


Working on two fronts: construction and a pandemic

Construction work to expand the hospital had already started when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as a new challenge to the city’s already weakened healthcare system. While continuing the construction, MSF converted the 40 newly built individual rooms meant to host patients for their recovery from fractures into isolation units for those with mild to moderate COVID-19 infections.

When the acute impact of COVID-19 started to fade away, Al-Wahda opened again as an orthopaedic surgery hospital with two fully equipped operating theatres to allow a wider range of surgical operations for people with arm and leg wounds.

Antimicrobial-resistant infections were among the major challenges that complicated the healing and recovery of patients wounded during the war. The individual isolation rooms were a game changer in avoiding the spread of these infections from one patient to another.

Rahma was one of the patients treated at the hospital. Ikram, her mother, recalls the difficult days Rahma went through because of her infection. "There was a time when we thought we lost Rahma’s arm – she couldn’t move it – and the infection was really bad. I couldn't afford to take her abroad for treatment, but four surgeries and 40 days later, her arm was saved and now she can use it''.

During its first six years, the hospital not only addressed immediate medical needs but also contributed to Mosul’s long-term health infrastructure. By providing specialized training and support to local health workers, the hospital aimed to enhance their skills and capabilities, ensuring the community would continue to have access to quality healthcare even after MSF handed over.

MSF remains present in Mosul, providing much-needed mental health, maternity, paediatric and neonatal care in West Mosul’s Al-Nahrawan and Nablus neighbourhoods, where teams run Nablus field hospital and the Al-Amal maternity clinic. MSF also recently extended activities to Al-Aboor neighbourhood, to increase people’s access to primary healthcare.


Al-Wahda Hospital in Numbers

  • Surgical operations                                                 4,914
  • Inpatient department admissions                      3,068
  • Outpatient consultations                                      33,998
  • Health promotion sessions                                   96,173