Internally Displaced Iraqi People in Kurdistan Urgently Need Global Heath Action: An Opportunity in Crisis


  • Maha Asham



Internally Displaced Iraqis, Global Health, Kurdistan


In January, 2014 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) offensive on Iraq gave Christians, and other minorities a zero-sum ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay tax when ISIL ceased their assets, or get killed. Consequent massive waves of exudes displaced more than 2.5 million Iraqissheltered in 2,857 informal sites including 32 camps across Iraq creating the most rapidly unfolding humanitarian crisis in the world. More than 800,000 Iraqis sought refuge in Kurdistan region northern Iraq. Rising insurgent violence threatens 400,000 more displacements by December 2015.At present, the humanitarian caseload to 5.3 million people.


The Chaldean Diocese assumed responsibility caring for tens of thousands displaced Iraqis flooding the city one June night, 2014. Today, the Chaldean Church is a lead humanitarian aid provider in and around Erbil having established and cares for 26 displacement centers and locations on ad-hoc basis.


While international humanitarian assistance made its way to the region, IDP who reach relatively safe areas are largely neglected. The provision of essential public health services have sharply deteriorated.


Health care and humanitarian relief in the region face three important challenges: mental and physical health issues imposed by atrocities of contemporary conflict, lack of data-driven assessment and reporting overshadowing persecuted Christians, and the neglect of victims especially those escaped ISIL captivity.


Global health platforms have an awesome responsibility still sitting on back burners. Suffering 5.3 Iraqis deserve honest competent advocates and players to bring their situation live to the world. God empowers and calls the Christian Global Health and Medical community to respond (2Cor 1:7-11 NIV).

Author Biography

Maha Asham

Maha is medical doctor and a senior global health Consultant with 20 years technical and scientific experience across academic institutions, UN organizations, private, and government sectors. She has delivered and managed expert technical support to 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Central Asia, Eastern and Western Europe; and more than 30 Sovereign American Indian Nations across the US working for grass-root to ministerial levels. She addresses capacity building of health sectors, quality improvement of health services, global HIV/AIDS prevention in young people, and adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

Maha held faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Laureate International Universities. She conceived and directed the Johns Hopkins Tribal Education Program (JHTEP) for eight years. She served as a medical officer at the World Health Organization (WHO).

Her academic and UN tenures, research and consultancy work resulted in academic courses, UN global initiatives, and national strategies and frameworks.

She spearheaded the national adaptation and global implementation of WHO initiative, “Adolescent Friendly Health Services: Making it Happen” in poor-resource countries.

She co-authored and launched the global implementation and adaptation of WHO's orientation program on adolescent health for health care providers, launching it at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK and facilitating its endorsement as a stand-alone and by the Royal College of Gynecology and Obstetrics, UK.

She developed a multi-country strategic response analyses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in young people involving an inventory of efforts in targeted countries, considering consolidated UN Technical Support Plan for AIDS and UNAIDS Division of Labor with UN programs.

She is the health communication advisor for satellite TV program, developing and presenting a health awareness series: “Our Health Our Responsibility” for the Middle East. Series Promo Link:

She is a co-founder of a development NGO (Sherouk) in Egypt.


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How to Cite

Asham, M. (2015). Internally Displaced Iraqi People in Kurdistan Urgently Need Global Heath Action: An Opportunity in Crisis. Christian Journal for Global Health, 2(1).



Short Communications / Field Reports