By Rachel Jones

 

At our Sharing Best Practice workshop, Yousaf Aftab, a deputy director at Humanity First, talked of his experiences visiting Iraq in 2018 to see how our donations are being used.

 

Humanity First is an international relief and development agency staffed by volunteers in 53 countries, including management team and aid workers. In 2015, we helped this NGO to distribute essential medicines in Nepal following a major earthquake. Subsequently, we’ve been supplying its medical facilities across northern Iraq.

 

Yousuf visited Iraq recently, meeting doctors and healthcare professionals who lacked even basic medicines. “I met one GP who was treating 200 patients a day, on her own, in a couple of rooms,” he recalls. “She didn’t have the necessary equipment, and she certainly didn’t have the medicines. The pharmacy was devoid even of common products for respiratory conditions and muscular-skeletal issues.”

 

Visiting remote villages in east and west Mosul, Yousuf also met people receiving donated medicines through our work. “The impact of conflict, especially on women and children, is massive. People are stuck in post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental conditions. Poor mental health is a massive burden in other places, but in Iraq it is huge.” Even for common conditions such as diabetes, “they just don’t have the medicines. When we provided even one pallet of IHP’s Essential Health Packs, people were just so happy to have this quality of medicine to use. The doctors were saying how they need much more of this.”

 

Yousuf says it is essential to monitor projects to ensure donations are used well, and that standards for compliance and adherence are met. “Donors and partners want to see what’s happening, and what the outcomes are,” he explains. “When we go there physically to do an audit, that offers reassurance, because we can say ‘This is how many units have gone out, and this is how they were used.’”

 

He adds: “In some countries, situations are fluid and we need to be able to work with the right people. We don’t want stock to be siphoned off into an illegitimate space where it’s not going to the beneficiaries who need it. We do due diligence, and we are able to provide a report... saying ‘This is the impact, and these are the levels of compliance and assurance we can give you.’ That provides confidence, especially for those providing funding.”