Opening of the Fallujah maternity and children’s hospital
The city of Fallujah, in Anbar Governorate, is home to approximately 700,000 people. Fallujah experienced some of the greatest violence and conflict in Iraq since May 2003. The city and the surrounding areas were left with severely deteriorated health services and a lack of effective facilities, particularly for paediatric, neonatal, and maternal care.
To compound these issues, the use of a variety of chemical and other weapons left major damage to the environment and has led to a rise in the number of certain illnesses, such as cancer, that were previously rare in the area. Many patients would often travel to Baghdad, some 60 kilometres away, for specialised medical care. This was especially dangerous given the volatile security situation in Anbar in recent years.
In response, UNDP, the Ministry of Health and the Government of Japan launched a project to establish a world-class facility in Fallujah for maternity and paediatric care – particularly in oncology diagnosis and treatment – in line with international hospital standards. The project was largely funded by a $17.9 million donation from the Government of Japan. UNDP Iraq worked closely with the Iraqi Ministry of Health in the design, construction and implementation of this project.
UNDP Iraq concluded the project and opened the Fallujah Maternity and Children’s Hospital on 25 March 2013. Today, the new hospital has 358 technical staff including 29 Doctors, 40% of whom are female. It serves several hundred patients daily through a variety of inpatient and outpatient services. Video of opening ceremony
Another driving force behind the building of the hospital was the story of Japanese journalist Shinsuke Hashida. While on assignment in Fallujah in March 2004, he met a young boy who had been partially blinded from gunfire in the city. Hashida learned that there were no capable facilities in Fallujah to treat the boy, and upon his departure he promised to Fallujah take the boy to Japan to receive treatment. Unfortunately, as he was returning to pick up the boy in May 2004, Hashida was killed in an ambush near Baghdad. To honor Hashida’s promise, his family brought the boy to Japan for treatment, successfully restoring his vision.
In Mr. Hashida’s memory, his wife established the “Hashida Memorial Fund” which since 2004 has contributed to many children’s causes in Iraq, and was a key catalyst of the project to establish this hospital. The boy, Mohammad Haitham, now 18 years old and fully recovered, spoke at the Opening Ceremony of his thanks for Hashida’s help and for this UNDP project.
A formal handover ceremony of the hospital to Iraq’s Ministry of Health is scheduled for later this month in Baghdad.