You probably don’t worry about the measles too much. But in Iraq, measles is one of the leading causes of childhood deaths. Due to years of war and upheaval, large numbers of children have never been vaccinated, leaving them vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses like polio and measles.
Not being able to vaccinate your child is a consequence of war that most of us have never considered. But when your home is occupied or besieged by militants, it becomes difficult or impossible to get medicine for your children, including vaccines. The chaos of displacement and conflict allows disease to spread quickly among children who have little or no access to health care.
Recently, Dr. Ameer, one of the doctors at our clinic in a remote area near Mosul, identified an entire town where most of the children are unvaccinated.
On top of that, there are hundreds of families pouring out of Mosul and landing on Dr. Ameer’s doorstep. They’ve endured more than three years of ISIS, rule. Their kids have never seen a doctor, let alone been vaccinated.
This is our chance to stop a health crisis before it starts.
Dr. Ameer asked us for help vaccinating thousands of children. Local government officials are providing the measles and polio vaccines. You’re providing the trained medical staff, transportation, and cold storage so Dr. Ameer and his team can continue to vaccinate children as they arrive at the clinic.
Over the last two weeks, our team has administered nearly 5,000 vaccines to over 2,500 children. And there are still thousands of vaccines ready for children and families arriving from Mosul.
These doctors are saving countless lives, but they are heroes in another way, too. As they were preparing to start the immunization campaign, ISIS launched a series of attacks in the area—including at least 8 suicide bombings in neighborhoods around the clinic. Yet these doctors chose to stay. They’re continuing the immunization campaign. Because they love their people and are committed to saving lives.
Preventing a crisis altogether is always better than reacting to one after it happens. The only reason we’re able to do so in this case is because of Dr. Ameer and the medical team at our clinic—and because you’re committed to long-term solutions that really work. If we had brought in a team of doctors for a short-term trip instead of employing local doctors, they wouldn’t have been able to identify a need in a neighboring town. Outside doctors wouldn’t know the area the way locals do. They wouldn’t know the people the way Dr. Ameer does.
If we had brought in an outside team of nurses administer the vaccines, we wouldn’t have been able to employ displaced medical professionals living in the camps—providing jobs and income for their families as we provide medical care for thousands of children.
It’s empowerment, medical care, and emergency relief all rolled into one. And it’s not over yet.
Thank you for trusting Iraqi professionals to know what’s best for their people and empowering them to make it happen. Thank you for seeing opportunities to rebuild Iraq and remake our world around every corner.