WHO technical mission visits Iraq to step up COVID-19 detection and response activities

A high-level technical mission from the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded a visit to Iraq to support the Iraqi Ministry of Health response to COVID-19 (coronavirus) prevention and containment measures.

The mission, which comprised experts from the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean Region and headquarters in Geneva, held a series of meetings with national health authorities to identify the disease detection dynamics and at-risk populations, in addition to providing guidance on strengthening response and control measures.

The mission also reviewed the Ministry’s overall readiness to deal with a potential increase in case reporting and the priority of establishing an Emergency Operation Centre to speed up action now that the disease has been announced as a global pandemic.

WHO experts visited the Central Public Health Laboratory to assess the national laboratory capacity and availability of test kits. They also visited the Communicable Disease Control Centre and designated health facilities in Baghdad to review the ongoing response by nationals and assess the technical support required in the coming period.

Iraq reported its first case of COVID 19 – an Iranian student in Iraq on 22 February 2020 – followed by 4 cases for members of one family with a travel history to Islamic Republic of Iran. Case reporting escalated to include almost all Iraqi governorates. The total number of cases reported as of 12 March stands at 83 confirmed cases, 24 recovered, and 8 deaths.

There is growing concern among the local health authorities about the possibility of domestic transmission of the disease which would challenge the already vulnerable health system in the country, stretched by years of wars and internal crises.

The health authorities have already banned major public events, suspended schools, and closed malls and gathering places until 21 March.

WHO has so far provided and will further provide the Ministry of Health at both central and regional levels with sufficient supplies of laboratory test kits and personal protective equipment to allow for a quick response to severe cases.

In addition, WHO is working around the clock to establish 3 negative-pressure rooms in Baghdad, Erbil and Basra to accommodate patients who might require more sophisticated medical treatment.

(Source: UN)

COVID-19 preventive measures during mass gatherings discussed with religious leaders and health officials in Iraq

As millions are expected to visit Iraq in the coming month for religious events, WHO is working with religious leaders and health officials to discuss necessary preventive measures to improve planning for mass gathering events during visits to holy sites to protect visitors from possible coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections.

“So far, the measures taken by the Government of Iraq to limit the spread of COVID-19 comply with WHO recommendations. Other urgent preparations, however, are critically needed, such as designating proper isolation facilities,” said WHO Representative in Iraq Dr Adham Ismail.

“Iraq has conducted a risk assessment and health authorities are calling on clerics to support Iraq’s decision to avoid gatherings as much as possible to prevent the spread of this disease. WHO supports that position,” he added.

Iraq announced the first COVID-19 infection on 25 February 2020. This number has since increased to 26 cases on 3 March, all among nationals coming from Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Strict measures have been taken by religious authorities at Al-Kadhimain Holy Shrine to preserve the safety of workers and visitors alike. These measures include the use of personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, by all shrine workers, in addition to closing the site for sterilization,” said the Secretary-General of Kadhimain Holy Shrine Dr Haider Hussain Al-Shammari.

WHO is providing technical advice and recommendations on visits to holy sites to prevent the spread of disease, including COVID-19. This includes best methods for sterilizing surfaces and equipment, the use of thermal detection devices at entrances and checkpoints, and proper referral and isolation measures for suspected cases.

(Source: UN)

More than 3.1 million Iraqi children to be vaccinated against polio

Health authorities in Iraq in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have launched a campaign to reach more than 3.1 million children under five years of age with lifesaving polio vaccinations.

The five-day campaign aims to target children in 65 districts in the governorates of Baghdad, Babylon, Diwaniya, Diyala, Muthanna, Thi-Qar, Missan and Basra.

“Over the years, WHO, the Ministry of Health and UNICEF have worked hard to improve the immunization coverage in the country. Therefore it is very important that we keep building on our work by making sure that children are vaccinated against childhood preventable diseases like polio, hence keeping Iraq free of polio” said Dr Adham Ismail, WHO Representative for Iraq.

“During this second phase of the campaign, we want to reach all the children under 5 years regardless of their previous vaccination status with Oral Polio Vaccine leaving no one out no matter where they are,” added Dr Adham

WHO supported the development of micro plans to guide the vaccination team day by day, mobilized and trained 1300 supervisors and more than 13000 vaccinators to carry out the campaign. In addition, it is also paying all the vaccination costs including transportation and other incentives to ensure that all children are reached using the door-to-door and at fixed centers stationed in health facilities strategy.

“These vaccines act as a shield, protecting children and babies from diseases, saving thousands of lives in Iraq each year. UNICEF continues to work hard with our partners to ensure that vaccines reach as many children as possible,” said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

UNICEF worked to ensure that beneficiaries are aware of the importance of the vaccination campaign and that vaccines are properly forecasted, stored and managed; it also provided technical support to public health workers as they developed a detailed and up to date map of target children irrespective of whether the children are IDPs, refugees, returnees or in host communities, or whether they live in urban, rural, official or unofficial settings.

This is the second phase of the polio campaign after the first one conducted in September that reached 2.6 million children. Vaccines remain the most cost-effective preventive measure against vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, WHO, and UNICEF are committed to supporting the health authorities to reach every eligible child in the country with the needed vaccines irrespective of their location.

(Source: UN)

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes a new contribution of US$24 million from the US Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID-OFDA) to strengthen primary, secondary and preventive health services in conflict-affected governorates in Iraq.

Access to improved life-saving health services will be ensured for approximately 3.5 million beneficiaries in seven governorates where health systems have been weakened by years of conflict.

“WHO is grateful to USAID-OFDA for its continued support, which enables us to maintain the delivery of uninterrupted quality health care services to millions of highly vulnerable women, children and the elderly living in severely affected areas,” said Dr. Adham Ismail Abdel Moniem, WHO Representative in Iraq.

As of October 2019, more than 4.3 million people have returned to their homes of origin, while approximately 1.5 million remain displaced in camps, informal settlements, and host communities across Iraq.

Through this new contribution from USAID-OFDA, WHO will scale up its support to national health authorities and partners to find sustainable solutions for the treatment of common diseases and environmental health emergencies. In parallel, WHO will establish primary health care centers in camps hosting displaced people, and rehabilitate primary health care facilities in areas of return.

The contribution will also cover the provision of prosthetics and physical rehabilitation for amputees, in addition to supporting mental health care services for those in need. Clinical management of rape and Gender-Based-Violence survivors is also among WHO’s priorities for 2019/20.

WHO has received considerable support from USAID/OFDA which was vital in supporting the health emergency response throughout the crisis in Iraq. During the Mosul conflict in 2014, mobile clinics were deployed, field hospitals were established close to the frontlines, and medicines and medical supplies were provided to health facilities delivering emergency health services in Dohuk, Ninewa, Anbar, and Kirkuk.

Medical waste management services were also supported, and a total of 76,000 kgs of medical waste was collected, sorted and disposed to prevent risk of cross-contamination.
“WHO has been able to maintain its work in Iraq through the commitment, cooperation, and generous contributions of donors such as the US Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance,” said Dr. Abdel Moniem.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Success, growth, career, development signpost from 3D_Creation/Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Finger pressing a new career start button, from Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Finger pressing a new career start button, from Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Success, growth, career, development signpost from 3D_Creation/Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Success, growth, career, development signpost from 3D_Creation/Shutterstock)

WHO sends shipment of kits and medical supplies to Missan governorate

Responding to the needs of the Directorate of Health in Missan following the recent floods that hit the area, the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the generous support of donors, sent a large consignment of emergency kits and medical supplies to support the Directorate, 304 kilometres south east of Baghdad.

WHO and Missan Directorate of Health staff witness firsthand the damage caused by floodingMissan was adversely affected by the floods which were caused by heavy rain and floods from the border with Islamic Republic of Iran. The flood water is covering a wide area of land, which has led to the migration of residents, damage to property, death of livestock and destruction of agricultural crops in many villages and marshlands.

About 328 726 population are at risk. Cities and villages affected are: Ali al-Gharbi, al-Msharrah, Hay al-Mua’alemeen al-Jadeed, al-Salam, al-Faka, al-Btaira, al-Teeb, al-Adil, al-Maymouna, al-Uzair and al-Kahlaa. Areas seriously threatened are villages west of the Tigris River (Hor Al-Musandak) along Ali al-Gharbi, Ali al-Sharqi and Qamit. 545 families are displaced with another 2000 families threatened with displacement.

The Government coordinated multisectoral efforts, supervised and supported relief operations, established 5 camps, and coordinated with Iraqi Army forces and civil defense to send helicopters to evacuate people trapped in flooded areas. With the situation quickly evolving, 101 families in some villages were evacuated to a camp in a neighbouring village.

Adham Ismail, acting WHO Representative in Iraq, said:

In response to the crisis, the WHO country office in Iraq has been coordinating very closely with the Missan Directorate of Health. WHO kept high level coordination and collaboration with the Directorate of Health in Missan through medical operations and specialized services.

“WHO acted promptly in responding to monitoring the floods and receiving regular reports, it assessed water quality and access to clean water and monitored cases of acute diarrhoea. Further, WHO has shared information with the Development Coordination Office at UNAMI and all United Nations partner agencies in Basra, particularly with UNICEF – Water and Sanitation Unit, and supported the Directorate with 30 Basic Interagency Emergency Health Kit and trauma kits to cover a population of 100 000 for one month. WHO will continue its efforts in monitoring the flood and health situation in Missan.

Officials at Missan Directorate of Health stressed that the shipment would save lives in the governorate and could be used by mobile clinics offering emergency health care and services to affected people. They expressed appreciation to WHO and donors for their quick response and support.

The consignment included supplementary module pharmaceutical kits, supplementary module equipment, renewable kits, trauma profile/emergency kits, medical supplies, and basic units (without a malaria component).

(Source: WHO)