A woman of resilience: Dr Ekram's journey to rebuild

March 8, 2023

Dr. Ekram in her office.

Photo: UNDP Iraq

Dr Ekram Abdullah Bashir, the Ninewa Medical Fluids Factory manager in Mosul, has faced many challenges throughout her life. Still, she has never let them hold her back. Born and raised in Mosul, now 55, she has always been passionate about serving her community through her work.

However, when ISIL invaded the city in 2014, Dr Ekram's life was turned upside down.


Dr. Ekram with her team.

Photo: UNDP Iraq
Overcoming adversity   

During the liberation from ISIL, Dr. Ekram was forced to flee with her ailing mother to a relative's house in Salah al-Din. While she was away from the factory and her official duties, she used the time to complete her PhD degree.  

Despite the difficult circumstances, Dr. Ekram remained focused on her goals, knowing that her education would allow her to make an even greater impact in her community when she returned.


Dr. Ekram walks around the factory campus.

Photo: UNDP Iraq
Returning home to rebuild  

After the liberation in 2017, Dr. Ekram returned to Mosul, eager to resume her work at the Ninewa Medical Fluids Factory. "When I returned to Mosul after the liberation, I was heartbroken to see the damage done to our factory. But I knew that we had to rebuild, not just for ourselves, but for the entire community. Our factory symbolizes hope, resilience, and the power of human ingenuity."

That's when the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) stepped in to help through the Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS).

Through the FFS’s support, the factory was rehabilitated, and Dr. Ekram and her team were able to start producing medical fluids again. The factory provides essential medical supplies to hospitals and clinics throughout the region, helping to save countless lives.

As Dr. Ekram explains, "Our work is critical, and we take it very seriously. We know that every day, people's lives depend on the products we make here."


Dr Ekram walks into the newly rehabilitated factory.

Photo: UNDP Iraq
Overcoming gender barriers  

As a female manager in a male-dominated industry, Dr Ekram understands the importance of empowering women in the workplace. She works closely with her female employees, providing them the training and support they need to excel in their roles.

"I believe that women have a unique perspective and set of skills that can be incredibly valuable in any industry," Dr Ekram explains. "I work hard to create a supportive and inclusive environment where all my employees feel valued and respected."


Factory staff producing medical fluids at the factory.

Photo: UNDP Iraq
Ensuring quality standards  

For Dr Ekram, maintaining high-quality production standards at the factory is a top priority, recognizing that every product they make is used to save lives. She invests in new technologies, equipment, and ongoing training to ensure that every product that leaves the factory meets the strictest quality standards.  

"To ensure the best possible outcomes for our customers, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the production process and streamline operations," Dr Ekram says. 


Dr Ekram’s team is testing the quality of fluids produced in the factory.

Photo: UNDP Iraq
Impacting local communities  

The rehabilitation of the Ninewa Medical Fluids Factory has significantly impacted the local community, improving access to vital medical fluids for over 800,000 people and enhancing the capacity of the local health system to provide life-saving care. In addition, the factory's reopening has created over 300 local job opportunities, boosting economic resilience and supporting sustainable development in the region.  

Today, the factory can produce over 5,000,000 bottles of 19 different medical fluids annually, such as saline solution, glucose solution and sodium bicarbonate. "By producing these vital medical supplies, we play a crucial role in improving access to healthcare and saving countless lives in the community," she adds.  


Factory staff follow safety and health protocol at the factory.

Photo: UNDP Iraq
A vision for growth and innovation  

Dr Ekram's comprehensive plan for maintaining the Ninewa Medical Fluids Factory includes ongoing investments in technology and equipment and training programmes for her employees. She is committed to ensuring the factory remains operational for years, providing essential medical products for generations.  

"We want this factory to continue to be a vital part of our community, a source of pride for all of us, and a beacon of hope for the future," Dr Ekram shares.  

Dr Ekram's journey in Ninewa is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and empowerment. "Our factory is more than just a place where we produce medical fluids. It is a hub of innovation and collaboration where our team works tirelessly to improve the quality and efficiency of our products. I am proud to lead such a dedicated and talented group." 


Dr Ekram is closing the factory for the day.

Photo: UNDP Iraq
Looking ahead  

As Dr Ekram reflects on her journey and the challenges she has faced, she remains grateful for the support she has received from her community and her colleagues. She is proud to be where she is today, and she hopes that her story will inspire others to never give up on their dreams.  

"I am excited about the future of the factory. We have come a long way, but much work still needs to be done. I am committed to ensuring that we continue to innovate and grow, providing essential medical products for generations to come," she says.  



Since 2015, UNDP's Funding Facility for Stabilization has worked with the Government of Iraq and local actors to ensure safe, dignified, and voluntary returns and to lay the foundation for successfully reintegrating displaced populations into the community. To date, UNDP has completed over 3,400 stabilization projects, including rehabilitating critical water and electrical infrastructure, schools, housing, and health facilities, all made possible with support from USAID.