10 reasons why Erbil’s maternity hospital needs urgent attention

I have come back from the Wlada hospital (the official, and probably one and only public maternity hospital in Erbil) whoever sees me asks me what’s wrong. I haven’t looked in the mirror, but I am told I look very pale.This is not my first experience in this what so called hospital*. Various times close friends, relatives and loves ones have visited for gynaecological surgeries or delivery of their babies. I have been blessed enough to be part of these miracles and at times, sadly, part of nightmare experiences.

I thought of titling this post ’10 reasons why Wlada (maternity) hospital has to close its doors’ but then it is the only option for many women at the moment. However, it needs attention both as a building, as facilities, as staff, doctors and as an overall system.

Before I begin my list of bolla-bols (complaining) I want to point out in the Kurdistan Region, and in Erbil in particular there are some private hospitals making you feel like you are in five star hotel with great services and staff. However, I know a lot of people in my life who can never afford to go to those hospitals. Only because they are not financially better off they don’t deserve the same services? It’s not fair, it really isn’t.

Picture: Google, healthcaredive.com
Picture: Google, healthcaredive.com
1. The staff are rude:
No one dares smile in this hospital. I got yelled at. Yes, a receptionist (or cleaner, I don’t know, no uniform to show who is who) decided to raise their voice and scream at me because I entered the wrong room (after I asked a million times if this is the right room and I was told yes over and over again). A polite “this is not where you are supposed to be” would have made a huge difference. But no, just yell at your patients and shoo them away as if they are little chickens coming in your newly planted garden.2. The Doctors become careless:
To be fair some of  the best doctors work in Wlada hospital as their morning jobs (don’t get me started on this morning job and private clinic in the evening business) but the amount of patients and disorganization that happens in that hospital doctors start to just go with the flow and fit themselves in with the chaos. This often leads to them not focussing well and not giving individual patients the time/ attention they need.

3. No privacy:
There is no such thing called privacy, walk in the corridors and it’s easy to see a woman being checked with her legs wide open behind a curtain that can be seen through (you know, through the sections between the pole and the curtain).

4. Too many patients:
In a single room you can find up to six patients all at once, one being examined, one talking to the doctor, another one getting ready to be examined, another already taking clothes off waiting for someone to check her. There is no system in place, if you don’t know anyone there or you don’t know your way around you end up spending half your time pocking your head out into different rooms asking every passer-by whether they know X or Y place/ person.

5. Your private issues are public:
It’s a women’s birthing hospital, those even who aren’t pregnant most likely have a very sensitive issue that they don’t want to share with every single cleaner, other patient or receptionist they come across. My poor patient was asked a gazillion times in front of so many people “Whose the patient? You? What’s wrong” what are you supposed to say? Ask, you have a right, but not in a loud voice in front of everyone.

What hurt me most is that a patient (let’s say X) was called into the operating room (yes, I was standing two doors away from the operating room) one of the patients said there are two people with the name X and enquired  which one of them had to enter, instead of the receptionist calling out LOUD -very loud- the last name of the patient she shouted out: “X, the one who is getting her uterus taken out”… poor lady stood up, went red and began preparing to enter the operating room.

6. No men allowed:
After writing point 3, I realize very well why it is not allowed for any husband, brother or father to enter the hospital, but it doesn’t make sense because some of the staff inside are males anyway. Plus, I will never understand why a father can’t be the first person to hold his new born baby or hold his wife’s hand after or during birth?

7. Working hours.
The entire time you are there it’s all about rushing here and there before doctors leave by mid-day. It’s as if when the clock strikes 12 all doctors are sucked into the ground and will come back out the next morning.

8. Lack of medication
I have witnessed this myself, if you leave an operation and you have pain someone you know must go and buy you pain relief needles from outside. So, if you are unlucky and no one told you before your operation to get pain relief. You come out, the anaesthesia loses it’s effect and you can just put up with the pain until the said needle/ medication is brought to you from a family member.

9. Hygiene
Let’s be honest, I didn’t see dirt or rubbish on the ground. However, hygiene is not just about rubbish and dirty tiles. It is also when a woman lays down on a bed it has a piece of tissue over it and is removed before the other. Hygiene is not using the same glove to touch a patient’s private area and using the same glove to hold your pen or put the curtain aside.

10. Respect
I love going to place where I feel I am treated right and respected. No matter if you are rich or poor, whether you are a lawyer, builder or a cleaner. I feel because most of the people who opt to the public hospital are usually middle or lower middle class citizens they are not treated well or respected by the staff at the hospital. When it comes to our health and bodies we all deserve respect, time and affection. The way staff speak to patients frustrate me, there is no please or thank you. you are a patient you need explanation, you need someone to treat you with care. In Wlada, dream on. I posted something on this on Facebook a friend of mine replied he borrowed money just so he can take his wife to a private hospital, why should this be the case?!


It is always easier to complain then come up with solutions. I am no doctor, I am no professional in the medical field, I am sure there are many confrontations in fixing this issue. As much as it is the staff’s fault it might also be the patient’s fault too. But why not…

– Train the staff. Every single staff members there needs to learn how to deal with patients, how to talk, and how to be polite. Do them a one week training, after the training who ever is caught not implementing what they learned cut off their salary for a month or two, fire them if need be.

– Bring in a system to the hospital, there are room allocations but it’s not well designed  and organized. I guess the building is ancient and needs major reconstruction.

– Provide a huge pharmacy with all the medical needs outside, people don’t need to go to Erbil Medical Road just to buy a needle then come back to the hospital. Okay, if you must, buy the medication, you might as well buy it in the hospital itself. We are talking about pain here, body/ physical pain.

– If need be, maybe we need to make our medicine schools bigger, take in more students, bring in profession professors from abroad. I don’t know. I am sure there is a solution and it won’t cost half as much as building a new mall.

*I would like to point out that services in this hospital are entirely free unless certain medications are needed. It is also not only a birth hospital but women who have pregnancy issues or other gynaecological health matters visit here.

* I did not take any pictures inside the hospital for ethical reasons.
This post originally published on this link on my previous blog: http://www.mandalawi.blogspot.com/2014/12/10-reasons-why-erbils-child-birth.html you can read comments there.

Tags: Hospitals in Kurdistan, hospital in Erbil, Erbil birth, giving birth Erbil Kurdistan

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