Bahoz Center is a nonprofit center for the rehabilitation of children with special needs. Bahoz Center was founded in Erbil in 2015.
Ali Ibrahim Ali, who has two children with special needs, established Bahoz Center because there was no rehabilitation center in Erbil and to bring the best available scientific practices to special-needs children and their families in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
There are currently 230 children receiving treatment in the three departments at Bahoz Center.
Physiotherapy: The physiotherapy department treats those with cerebral palsy and other movement challenges with the aim of improving their physical health.
Speech therapy: The speech therapy department treats patients who have voice disorders, swallowing disorders or delayed speech. It rehabilitates these children by enhancing their language learning abilities and improving their general level of communication.
Behavioral therapy: The behavioral therapy department treats patients with autism or ADHD, or who are hyperactive, have Down syndrome or mental disabilities. Over 40% of the children in the center are treated by the behavioral therapy department.
Bahoz Center approaches patients scientifically. First, they do an evaluation, which is based on international guidelines. The center’s specialists use a form in the evaluation, and the form provides a score that indicates the extent of the problem. Then, the child is seen by a team of doctors which includes neurologists, pediatricians and psychiatrists from Erbil. The doctors decide on a diagnosis and whether rehabilitation is needed. If it is, they create a program for the child and then the child begins classes.
Every four months Bahoz reevaluates and updates the child’s program. Nearly 40 children have completed the program and returned to school since 2015. Bahoz has rehabilitated over 1,500 children to date.
Bahoz Center was established to bring the best available scientific practices to special-needs children and their families in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
Bahoz closely monitors new techniques and programs around the world to make sure patients are receiving the best treatments. In order to bring the best available practices to the KRI, Bahoz regularly sends its specialists to foreign countries to attend courses and seminars. The center works closely with internationally recognized professionals from EU countries and the US who are knowledgeable in the management of children with autism. Bahoz also receives professional help from abroad in the auditing and management of the center.
Bahoz Center contributes to human capacity development in the KRI through its Continuous Professional Development (CPD) department. When the center was established in 2015, it had to bring in qualified personnel from abroad. Today, however, the center’s CPD department trains its local staff.
Bahoz Center management team is lobbying to convince MPs to pass a law that will provide financial help to families who cannot afford to send their children to private centers like Bahoz.
Bahoz usually works with charity foundations to aid those who can’t afford rehabilitation. The center submits grant requests to these organizations. Bahoz has been able to help 70 children through these kinds of donations in the last four years. Dr. Hoshiar Mohammad, director of the Bahoz Center, says about 250 low-income families, who have registered their children on the waiting list, are waiting for financial help.
Many families that have children with special needs seek public assistance to help cover the health care costs associated with a child’s disability. In most countries, governments provide health coverage for children with special needs through special insurance programs. However, in the KRI there is no program that provides financial help for children with special needs from low-income families. The family must pay to send a child to a private center for treatment. Therefore, the Bahoz Center management team is working tirelessly to create more awareness for children with special needs and is lobbying to convince MPs to pass a law that will provide financial help to families who cannot afford to send their children to private centers like Bahoz. One of our main aims is to have this law passed so that we can reach out and help more children with special needs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, says Ali Ibrahim Ali.