The term “provider of last resorts” has been a point of discussion in the World Health Organization’s draft 13th program of work. In efforts to illustrate what it means, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has often made an example of the organization’s intervention in Mosul, Iraq, in 2017, where the organization made an unusual decision to run a referral chain for trauma cases from the frontlines as Iraqi forces fought the Islamic State militant group.

The decision, as Devex reported at the time, received support from multiple players and partners on the ground. Donors such as the European Commission were eager to provide financial and political support to the endeavor.

But a recent report by the Center for Humanitarian Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reveals the events that unfolded on the ground in Mosul — and the decisions that actors made — raised significant questions on the future of humanitarian response in today’s conflict settings.

Under Geneva conventions, parties to an armed conflict bear the responsibility of providing care to the wounded. But in Mosul, humanitarian actors soon realized that Iraqi and Kurdish forces lacked the medical personnel necessary to care for their own soldiers, let alone civilians injured in the conflict. Surrounding hospitals were similarly understaffed and overburdened. United States-led coalition forces, who were supporting the Iraq government’s offensive, argued they were in an “advise and assist” role and so were restricted from deploying medical units to treat civilians.

Read the full article on WHO in Mosul by Jenny Lei Ravelo at Devex International Development