COVID 19: KfW Development Bank to finance four hospitals in Iraq to help them prepare for the peak of the pandemic expected in autumn

The nursing staff is preparing for an increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

(PRESS RELEASE) FRANKFURT, 10-Aug-2020 — /EuropaWire/ — Frankfurt, Germany based KfW Development Bank (KfW Entwicklungsbank GmbH) has announced it will provide funding for four hospitals in Iraq on behalf of the Federal Government. Funds will be used to help prepare the Iraqi hospitals for the treatment of COVID 19 patients amid the peak of the pandemic expected there in autumn.

For KfW portfolio manager Moritz Remé, things cannot happen fast enough. He is urging his colleagues to work overtime to get the contracts and documents for the construction of four hospitals with 100 beds each in Iraq ready as quickly as possible. The hospitals are to be built in the major cities of Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and Süleymaniye. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) KfW is financing the construction with an initial EUR 15 million.

The aid is urgently awaited there. Dr Ali Rizgari, Director of the Health Authority in Süleymaniye, describes the desperate situation. In July, an average of 200 new infections are detected daily in his province alone, and ten deaths are reported every day. “It is extremely important to build a new hospital here, because we currently do not have a facility that specialises in infectious diseases,” says Dr Rizgari, describing the situation. “Corona patients are spread over four hospitals that are not designed for this. Often we have to evacuate persons to make room for the corona patients.” He fears that patients who are not COVID 19 cases are currently receiving inadequate care.

A simulation of the course of the infection according to a WHO model showed that the Iraqi conurbations will be hit hardest by the pandemic in autumn. By then, the four makeshift hospitals are to be built in modular design. Consultant Michael Weinhara of EPOS Health Management broods over the plans. Where is the nearest water connection, where is the nearest transformer of an electricity plant? The electricity needs of a hospital cannot be covered by a simple connection to the grid, higher capacities are needed. How many kilometres of cable must be laid to the next transformer station? These are all factors that determine the costs of hospitals. If construction and equipment are as cheap as possible, another hospital could be built, probably in western Baghdad. Weinhara is in daily contact with the executing agency REFAATO (Reconstruction Fund for Areas Affected by Terroristic Operations) and the Ministry of Health.

The hospitals are urgently needed. There are currently just under 50,000 hospital beds in Iraq, of which about 630 are intensive care beds. Projections have shown that almost double that number will be needed in Iraq in autumn, 12,000 of them intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients alone.

“We use KfW’s shortened procedures that are possible in such crisis situations,” explains KfW expert Moritz Remé. Instead of international tenders, price enquiries are made directly to construction companies in Iraq. “Our designs for the makeshift hospitals are a very lean response to the crisis, but we have to win the race against time,” Remé explains. Despite the emergency, the bureaucratic structures – on both sides, he stresses – are persistent. “I try to gain time every day so that the project can move forward,” says Remé. But importance is also attached to ensuring that the hospitals in Iraq will still be usable once the epidemic subsides. This must be taken into account in the planning.

Meanwhile, Dr Ramadhan, director of the health authority in Mosul, is struggling with the steady increase of COVID 19 cases in his city. Mosul belongs to the region that was dominated by the Islamic State (IS) for years. “Due to attacks and the struggle to liberate the city, our hospitals have suffered severe damage,” explains Dr Ramadhan. The only hospital with an isolation ward is in Mosul, offering only 40 beds for the treatment of COVID 19 patients. He complains that he also lacks diagnostic kits and respirators.

KfW consultant Weinhara is working feverishly on the procurement of equipment for the hospitals planned in Iraq. The delivery time for ventilators is currently at least seven months. Thanks to his many years of professional experience and the network he has built up over the years, Weinhara has been able to secure a contingent of equipment for KfW that – due to its user-friendly design – is normally used in emergency ambulances and rescue vehicles. They could provide good services in Iraq. Respirators are currently in demand worldwide, and every type of device is purchased immediately. If everyone pulls in the same direction and the at least four hospitals in Iraq are soon to be operational, they could provide care for at least 7,000 in-patients within a year. The pandemic can only be alleviated if infections are diagnosed, infected persons are isolated and those who are ill are treated appropriately.

Media contact:

Charlotte Schmitz
KfW Development Bank
+49 69 74 31-42 60



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