When Mosul ended its Covid-19 lockdown last month, health specialists faced a disheartening reality: a deterioration among youth with developmental disorders and special needs in the northern Iraqi city.
Mosul’s few health centres treating these young people had been shut for around four months to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 300,000 Iraqis and killed over 8,000, according to official figures.
Hundreds of children diagnosed with various conditions, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), were deprived of socialisation classes, speech training and physical therapy –- all described by doctors as essential.
“The spread of the coronavirus and the lockdown really affected the situation for our young patients, as they were not able to come to hospitals or treatment centres,” said Ilham Khattab, an autism specialist in Mosul.
“Their cases got worse and they had relapses. It was disastrous.”
Decades of war and poor investment have