When ISIS extended their rule in Iraq, many people from the Nineveh plains and from Mosul fled to the town of Alqosh, situated outside the autonomous Kurdistan region in Northern Iraq. Many displaced persons had also been injured both physically and mentally, when ISIS took hold of the city of Mosul - less than forty kilometres south of Alqosh. The need for medical and psychological treatment was enormous, and it still is today after recapturing Mosul by Iraq forces.
Therefore Johanniter started in spring its support to the “Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights” in establishing a new Health Centre in Alqosh. The local health centre that already existed in Alqosh was overwhelmed and they also had no staff trained in providing psychosocial support, let alone psychotherapy. Jiyan Foundation decided to procure funding and establish a second Health Centre in Alqosh with additional focus on emergency trauma care and psychosocial support. Johanniter quickly embraced the idea and - with funding from Aktion Deutschland Hilft e.V - a building was renovated and equipped, and doctors, pharmacists and psychologists were hired.
The Alqosh Centre by Jiyan now offers Primary Health Care and Mental Health Care to roughly fifty patients per day and covers the transportation costs for those who have to travel to Alqosh from the surrounding villages. The original Health Centre refers patients to Jiyan, especially those in need of psychological treatment like survivors of human rights violations: people who have experienced torture, genocide, political persecution, domestic and gender-based violence and terrorist attacks. They provide medical treatment, psychotherapeutic support and socio-legal counselling for mental well-being and social reintegration.
Many people do not recognize the symptoms of trauma, and also, they do not realize that they or their family member need therapy, not medication”, explains Rospin Baito, Local Director of Jiyan´s Health Centre in neighbouring Duhok. “There is also a stigma about mental illness that prevents people from seeking professional help.”
The Alqosh Centre offers Primary Health Care as a low-threshold service. The first medical screening of a patient always includes a mental health check-up, and if an issue is detected here, the patient is given another appointment. This way, access to psychological treatment is provided, and patients can continue coming to the same facility, without anyone knowing what they are being treated for. At the same time, Jiyan Foundation conducts public awareness-raising on mental health issues to achieve that society will consider mental health and psychotherapy a regular part of general healthcare and well-being. "The intervention has met an urgent demand in the region, and was very well received by the surrounding communities in the last months. Therefore Johanniter are striving to acquire additional funding, in order to enable our partners at the Jiyan Foundation to continue this important work in the future", says Julia Noel, Johanniter Desk officer for Iraq.