Sulaymaniyah Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre
Inclusion and empowerment for people with disabilities.
In 1998 we opened our Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre in Sulaymaniyah, a specialist facility for the provision of physiotherapy and the production of prostheses, orthoses, and other aids for disabled and amputee patients. The centre was established to address the high number of injuries sustained by landmines in Iraqi Kurdistan. It became rapidly apparent that treatment for victims of war and landmines could not end upon discharge from hospital. Patients often find themselves dealing with their disabilities alone, in a society where specialist assistance is largely unavailable and where stigma persists. Even today, our centre in Sulaymaniyah remains the only free, specialist facility in the area. It has become a reference point for patients throughout Iraq, as well as further afield in Syria and Iran.
As of June 2019, the Sulaymaniyah Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre has treated 10,873 patients; fitted 1,276 prosthetic arms, 9,359 prosthetic legs, and 1,140 orthoses; provided 55,412 physiotherapy sessions; and has screened 619 patients for cardiac conditions. In 2017 alone, 1 in every 5 of our patients came from other regions in Iraq.
Reintegration and Empowerment for People with Disabilities
Victims of war and explosive violence face a host of challenges when attempting to rebuild their lives. EMERGENCY’s approach is holistic, looking beyond the immediate cure to also provide long-term care and support. Physiotherapy, psychological support, and socio-economic reintegration are vital. We deliver not only urgent, life-saving treatments and surgeries; but also guarantee ongoing post-operative medical care and comprehensive reintegration support.
In Iraq, disabled people dependent on economic and medical aid are often regarded as financially burdensome, which can result in their marginalisation within the community. EMERGENCY’s social reintegration programme aims to restore its patients’ dignity and to overcome the barriers created by disability, enabling individuals to regain a livelihood for themselves and their families. Accessibility is an initial challenge to overcome. In order to help patients regain autonomy following treatment, EMERGENCY seeks to eliminate architectural barriers in their homes. This ensures that patients can be independent and move freely within their own living space.
Furthermore, the centre facilitates occupational reintegration through professional and vocational training courses. Patients can attend various professional training classes – including metalwork, carpentry, tailoring and shoe-making, leatherwork, plumbing, and electronics – in order to aid their progress back into work and to help them achieve independence; precluding the likelihood of stigma and social isolation. Once courses are completed, EMERGENCY helps patients who wish to establish small business cooperatives and workshops by guaranteeing financial and managerial support for six months, or until operational autonomy is attained. Since the commencement of these programmes, more than 600 people have received training and were assisted in the establishment of more than 376 business cooperatives. The EMERGENCY logo is now displayed in over 360 workshops that we have helped to establish.
Collaboration, Local Staff, and Training
The Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre remains under the direct administrative control of EMERGENCY, while most hospitals and First Aid Posts (FAPs) elsewhere in the region have been managed by local authorities since 2005.
EMERGENCY’s employment policy for local staff gives priority to people with disabilities and members of disadvantaged social groups. At the Sulaymaniyah Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre more than half of the 76 local staff are former patients or individuals with disabilities.
Training is a core component of EMERGENCY’s approach. Wherever possible, we work to qualify the next generation of local medical professionals: boosting the capability and autonomy of national healthcare infrastructures. As of June 2019, our centre in Sulaymaniyah has seen 601 trainees qualify in a variety of medical specialisations.
In 2017, we began working with the Rehabilitation Centre in Mosul, which was damaged during fighting between Daesh and the Iraqi Army. According to data from the centre there are 3,000 amputees and disabled people in Mosul in need of prostheses or orthoses.
In October, we began transferring patients to our centre in Sulaymaniyah, where they are able to complete the rehabilitation process. We are continuing with this work throughout 2018/19. As of December 2017, 56 patients had already been referred and treated.
This project is funded by European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
Start of clinical activities: February 1998
Activities: Production of prostheses and orthoses, physical rehabilitation, vocational training for disabled people, launching of craft cooperatives.
Facilities: Physiotherapy, orthopaedic laboratories, vocational training for disabled people, technical and support services.
Local staff members: 77
Patients admitted: 11,295
Physiotherapy sessions: 57,124
Prosthetic arms: 1,328
Prosthetic legs: 9,697
Cardiology visits: 552
Trainees graduated: 601
Cooperatives started: 386
(Data correct as of December 2019)