Volunteer nurses provide crucial health services in Kifri

Kifri, November 2022: Two volunteers working at the laboratory of Shahid Khalid Garmiani Hospital. Leila Ahmad

By Laila Ahmed

Hevi Sarmad, 24, a graduate of the Department of Pathology, works several days a week in the laboratory department.

“When I graduated, I didn't stay at home. I started with a lot of hope, gradually I became very happy. I felt that the patients and the hospital administration were satisfied with my work, which encouraged me to work more,” Sarmad said.

She has been volunteering for six years and continues to serve with 24 other women, some of whom have been volunteering for two to seven years.

A number of female volunteers in Kifri district of Garmian Administration under Sulaymaniyah Northern Province have become the nerve center of health services to citizens, examining patients and giving them treatment and guidance.

Some of the 25 women have been working as volunteers at Shahid Khalid Garmiani Hospital for seven years. Patients and the hospital administration say they do their job with loyalty and love, along with a number of other male employees.

When I graduated, I didn't stay at home and decided to volunteer

Dylan Yasin, 21, is a nursing graduate who lives in Kifri. She has been volunteering in the same hospital for several years.

“I used to work in the operating room and then in the emergency room, but now I work in the pharmacy department.”

According to health statistics, 5,000 people have volunteered in Sulaymaniyah province alone following the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic. Although the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG's Ministry of Health needs about 7,000 new employees, according to the volunteers, “the ministry has not taken their role into account.”

The KRG and the federal Iraqi government have suspended employment following the war against the Islamic State ISIS due to budget deficit following the war as most of the national budget is spent on public servant payroll.

Kifri, November 2022: A volunteer provides health services to a patient. Laila Ahmed

The work of these volunteers is generally appreciated by patients and the hospital administration.

Rozhan Mohammed, a resident of Kifri district, said the volunteers helped her in the hospital several times when he was sick.

Last week, she was taken to Shahid Khalid Garmiani Hospital in Kifri.

“When I was taken to the hospital, several girls rushed to my aid and gave me water. They examined me properly and respectfully, brought me back the results and gave me advice.”

They examined me properly and respectfully

“I saw with my own eyes that they helped children, the elderly and all the patients, gave them advice and treatment and encouraged the patients,” Rozhan impressively said.

Many of the volunteers were on duty in hospitals during the outbreak.

Kifri, home to over 50,000 people, is one of the districts located within the disputed territories under the Iraqi constitution and part of Diyala province run by the Iraqi government, while administratively is one of the districts of the Garmian administration.

Garmian local administration which includes several districts and sub-districts between Sulaymaniyah and Diyala province is part of Sulaymaniyah Northern Province, one of the provinces of Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI under the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.

 The paramedic volunteers demand that the KRG take into account their role and efforts in the event of the resumption of the recruitment process.

“I am mentally comfortable with this volunteer work. I hope there will be more employment opportunities in the public sector so that we can benefit,” Sarmad added.

The Paramedics believe there is urgent need for regular training to update the medical staff.

"One of our skills is that in addition to treating patients and guiding them, we also calm them down in new methods, through different treatments.”

The volunteers are happy with the positive response of the patients.

“The patients love us so much that they have become our friends and some of them ask how we are doing after receiving treatment and pray for us to be employed,” Yasin said.

The volunteers have various degrees, including nursing, chemistry, pathology and biology postgraduates from universities and colleges.

 “We are volunteers and we have no financial support. I have friends because they can't pay their fares, they can't serve,” Dylan said.

The volunteers attend public hospital in the morning shift and work several hours for free, hoping one day their services lead to permanent employment.

Saman Sartip, director of Shahid Khalid Garmiani Hospital in Kufri district, told KirkukNow, “Most of the volunteers are girls and a few are boys.”

The hospital administration has organized the work of volunteers according to the needs of the hospital, generally working two days a week between 9 am and 12 noon, which is when most patients visit the hospital, according to the director.

“We have benefited greatly from the work of the volunteers, who work in the laboratory, emergency, radiology and other departments to help other employees, because we have many patients in the morning and the volunteers help us,” Sartip affirmed.

In the morning we have a lot of patients and volunteers help us

"The Kurdistan Regional Government has no plans to recruit volunteers, and we have addressed relevant authorities several times that we need them," he said.

Earlier, Dr. Ma'af Abdullah, Director General of the Office of the Ministry of Health of the KRG told KirkukNow, “We consider ourselves indebted to the volunteers to fight the coronavirus, soon we will not meet with the service council and direct their recruitment plan, which includes a proposal to recruit volunteers.”

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