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Saint Joseph’s Charity Clinic, Erbil


In response to the mass escape and exodus due to ISIS attacks on 7.7.2014, a number of physicians and pharmacists organised their own efforts voluntarily to establish a charity clinic. The clinic was established under the auspices of the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Matti Warda. It serves some 8,000 families who fled from Nineveh Plain to Ankawa and Erbil, in Northern Iraq.

Support so far:

From the beginning of the crisis, the clinic started with free services to victims in a small room (just 3mx3m) located in St. Joseph’s Refugee Camp (at St. Joseph’s Cathedral). Hence named St. Joseph’s Charity Clinic.

The clinic has been visited by international organizations, including the Malteaser International, which took upon itself to finance the construction of a new clinic on a plot belonging to the archdiocese in Ankawa on Montazah Street. Funding included building, air conditioning, furnishing caravans and restrooms.


The clinic moved to the new location on 13.10.14 and its official opening ceremony was on 31.10.14.

The clinic contains 9 units:

Information, General Medicine, Gynecology, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Minor Surgeries, Pharmacy, Drugstore and ultrasound unit, with plans for a dental unit.

Medical staff consist of:

9 Specialist Physicians , 10 General Physicians, 5 Pharmacists, 3 Nurses (who joined the staff from the Sisters of the Holy Cross, India) and 3 Students in medical colleges helping in sorting medicines, data entry and other issues. All staff are volunteers. The clinic operates 2 hourly, 2 morning and afternoon shifts, 6 day week.

It receives some 150 patients daily, about 4,000 monthly, this number is just for cold cases (not chronic). All patients served are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Refugees, served regardless of their religion, ethnicity, race, national origin, colour and gender.

The Issue:

Few weeks after establishing the clinic, a program was adopted to dispense chronic diseases medications on a weekly basis, the program operated until end of December 2014. With the beginning of 2015, the clinic launched a new program to dispense chronic cases on a monthly basis. The first stage of registration took almost 1,000 patients; now exceeding 2,000. Accordingly, the value of dispensed medications (chronic & OTC) costs over USD 45,000 monthly. With such high financial demands, the clinic could NOT fund even the more critical and the most urgent surgical operations.

One of the programs adapted is the Chronic medication program, registration was during January 2015, initially taking a 1,000 patients and extending to a further 400.

Registration was stopped for about 3 weeks due to lack of funds (unable to buy medicine for all patients). With support from NGOs and donors, currently serving 2,200 patients. Registration again had to close due to lack of funding. The cost of chronic medications for 2,200 patients ranges between $40,000-42,000 per month, according to local prices and for medium quality (i.e. not branded).

With insufficient fixed monthly funds along high demands, it is becoming extremely difficult to continue the program.

The Needs:

Monthly support to meet medication costs is essential to serving the patients.


St Joseph’s Clinic is the only centre in Erbil city that dispenses chronic medications for IDPs on a monthly basis.

Because of a minimal budget and high cost of medicine, often consideration is made for the needs of ten patients than one (i.e. the cost of one medicine for a patient may equal the cost of all medicine of 10 patients!).

If medications are not available beside the work of volunteers, patients cannot improve, hence a pressing need for medications.