PloS one 2017 08 1612(8) e0181028 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0181028
During the summer of 2014, ISIS overran Nineveh governorate in Northern Iraq. Yazidis and other religious minorities were subjected to brutal attacks and forced to seek refuge into the neighbouring Kurdistan Region, where they remain living in local communities or in camps. This survey provides a population-based assessment of the health needs and care seeking behaviours of Yazidis and other groups currently residing in camps.
The survey covered 13 camps managed by the Kurdish Board of Relief and Humanitarian Affairs. A systematic random sample of 1,300 households with a total of 8,360 members were interviewed between November and December 2015. Participants were asked if any household members had needed care for a health condition in the two weeks preceding the survey, and whether care was obtained from the camp primary health care centre, an outside public hospital or a private clinic. If care was received, the out-of-pocket payment was recorded; otherwise, the reason for not seeking care was queried.
In 33.9% (CI: 31.0-37.0) of households one or more members had needed care for a health condition in the two weeks preceding the survey. The most likely to have needed care were older persons (18.5%; CI: 13.6-24.6) and infants (18.0%; CI: 11.6-26.8). The reported health conditions revealed a complex picture of communicable and non-communicable diseases as well as mental health problems and physical injuries. Care was primarily sought from private clinics (41.8%; CI: 36.4-47.4) or public hospitals (27.3%; CI: 22.6-32.7) rather than from the camp primary health care clinics (23.6%; CI: 19.5-28.2). The mean out-of-pocket payment for care received was nearly 3 times higher in public hospitals than in the camp primary health care clinics and nearly 11 times higher in private clinics. Cost was the main perceived barrier to obtaining health services.
Demand for health services was high among Yazidis and other minorities living in camps. Private services were preferred in spite of the tenuous economic circumstances of displaced households. Declines in public sector funding may further restrict access from camp clinics stressing the need for alternative access strategies.