The World Health Organization conducted a workshop recently in Amman, Iraq. Here a number of the war-torn nation's health care professionals gave first-hand accounts of the challenges they face in their work.
These stories clearly show the incredible strength and resilience of these workers in dealing with the constant danger of being injured or killed, as they tackle bomb attacks and curfew restrictions to attend to the needs of the vulnerable.
A health officer dealing with polio vaccinations recounts how several colleagues were killed during the polio vaccination program where 5 million children were reached. She speaks of the use of fixed vaccinating teams in 'hot areas' like Al-Karkh district in Baghdad.
Another worker expressed his admiration for some communities themselves. He recollected an occasion when a stray bullet hit a boy as he was standing in the doorway of his house.
The neighbors helped transport this wounded teenager to Ibn al Nafees hospital where he was treated and saved. This clearly showed that in the same way as all doctors try their utmost to fulfill their obligations and more often than not, go far beyond the call of duty, communities are honoring their role of stepping into the vacuum left by the over-burdened emergency medical services.
A female doctor spoke of how gender discrimination surprisingly never occurred to her, in this male-dominated and strife-ridden land. She was quoted: "Though I have been threatened by disgruntled employees in the past and continue to fear for my safety due to the poor security situation, I have never experienced any form of gender discrimination that has hindered my progress as a female doctor.
Generally, the public has trust in the medical providers, particularly in nurses and vaccinators who continue to work despite the constant threats made against them. The successes of the polio and MMR vaccination programs are testament to the dedication of these brave people."
One health worker wanted to share his concerns on the supplies of medical essentials. He also spoke of the sheer will of doctors and nurses who kept many health centers open, right in the face of dangers. "Though transport has become extremely difficult, medicines, vaccinations and supplies continue to reach us.
At times it is near impossible to get these supplies to centers in the 'hot areas'. However, it is encouraging that vaccinations are being procured from excellent sources, a vast improvement when compared to previous years. However, we often face difficulties in supplying to centers such as Mikaneek in Dora due to the prevailing security situation", he said.
Another healthcare specialist wanted to express how a patient's act of gratitude inspired others as well as him, to continue the good work in the treatment of TB patients.
The cured patient had returned with sweets for other such patients, boosting the confidence of other sufferers that the disease could be overcome, as well as flagging the morale of this doctor.
The selfless service of these stout-hearted and compassionate health workers could be summed up in the quote of one of them: "The situation is difficult, but I will continue to be thankful because there are people who continue to do all they can to work for a better future.
"Despite the current situation and all the obstacles we face in performing our duties, we all strive to carry out what is required of us."