Although we tend to define ourselves as an association specialising in medical humanitarian aid, STEP-IN recognises that health and well-being are influenced by a variety of factors. As such, our projects not only include clinics and health centres (permanent and mobile), but also social programmes including HandSAP, the training and ongoing employment of community health workers, and health education programmes.
Step-In is a small (but mighty) NGO currently based in Iraqi Kurdistan, providing medical humanitarian aid for internally displaced peoples, refugees, and members of the local community. We believe that primary healthcare should be accessible and affordable to everyone, especially those who have experienced crises and have been disadvantaged by war, discrimination, and corruption.At present, we run a full-time health centre at the Dawoodia Camp in the Duhok region of Kurdistan. This centre not only provides effective primary healthcare for those in desperate need, but also houses a clinical microbiology laboratory, offering essential diagnostics to the region. The health centre also acts as a base for a number of our outreach programmes, including the training and ongoing employment of community health workers, (child trauma therapy sessions), and group and individual physiotherapy sessions.
We also run a full-time physiotherapy centre in Erbil, which provides physiotherapy services to a variety of cases referred by our in-house GP. This centre opened in September 2018 and has been in constant use since. Our physiotherapists work with a number of people, from children with neurological disorders, to adults seeking treatment for chronic and psychosomatic pain post-trauma. Physiotherapy is a hugely important service due to an overreliance on and simultaneous shortage of medications, an incapable health system, and the referral of minor trauma cases to private services our cases cannot afford. Allowing untreated cases to develop into ongoing medical conditions. Physiotherapy is a practice built on empowerment, consistency, and patience, it can help reduce pharmaceutical overtreatment, increase mental well-being, and is a cost-effective treatment plan. We are also training local staff members in new physiotherapy ideas and techniques.
Alongside the permanently situated health centre in Dawoodia, and the physiotherapy centre in Erbil, we run a mobile health clinic that delivers primary healthcare, physiotherapy, and pharmaceutical supplies to various locations throughout the Duhok region. The mobile clinic currently visits four separate villages every fortnight, Sharya and Sinna, both situated near the predominantly Yazidi occupied Sharya Camp, and Balkosh, Gersheen and Sinna, rural Kurdish villages.
Here at Step-In we are acutely aware of the holistic nature of a person’s health and well-being and as such we have introduced projects that tackle health issues not only from a medical or biological perspective, but also economic and cultural. Our HANDSAP programme allows those with complex health issues to access funding and support that would otherwise be unavailable to them, and our fantastic local employees, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, translators, and many more, provide us with a context and understanding that raises the level of our work ten-fold. New exciting projects such as a community cafe employing displaced Yazidi women and the publishing of Step-In’s new book, as well as the continuation of our current work, promises 2020 to be an exciting and successful new year!