Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.
Almost three decades of damaging governmental policies, internationally-imposed sanctions, poor management, inadequate resource allocation and three major conflicts have all had a profoundly negative impact on Iraq’s health system. Many talented medical professionals fled the country, and younger professionals who remained were cut off from the major advances in global health care procedures and standards which occurred over the period.
As a marginal/rural area, the southern Iraqi marshlands endured many years of neglect and subsequently active and violent persecution under the former regime, resulting in the forced displacement of virtually the entire population to other parts of the country or to refugee camps in neighboring countries. The return of up to 400,000 people after 2003 placed immense pressure on the decimated and virtually non-existent primary health care structure in the marshlands.
The provision of adequate health care services is crucial to ensuring the stability of this population and to avoiding further displacement to urban areas (which would in turn exacerbate the existing acute problems of squatting, overcrowding, poverty, unemployment, violence and lack of basic services in Iraqi cities).
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
In 1991 the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein began persecuting the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq, draining the marshes and attacking the villages. Baroness Emma Nicholson visited the refugee camps and Iraqi marshes in September 1991 and, deeply moved by what she saw, subsequently launched an appeal to send much needed relief. As increasing thousands of Marsh Arabs became refugees, the one-off AMAR (Assisting Marsh Arabs and Refugees) Appeal developed into the AMAR International Charitable Foundation. Although the charity has since evolved far beyond this original remit, the AMAR name continues, reflecting our history, and, as the word ‘amar’ translates as ‘the builder’ in some Arabic dialects, reminding us of our central mission – ‘rebuilding lives’.
Baroness Nicholson was inspired to start the specific mHealth project proposed because of her belief that Iraq’s future will be determined by the success of its people—both economically and in terms of their health and wellbeing. The implementation of the IVR system by an Iraqi network provider and the use of that system by Iraqi WHVs and TBAs contributes to both of these components of success. Furthermore, Zain Iraq’s generous support for AMAR’s work can be even more successfully leveraged by using their technology to further increase Iraqis' quality of life.