Iraq launches COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

The World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with the Iraqi Ministry of Health, today launched a national COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign covering all Iraq including the Kurdistan Region and targeting over 12 million people with children 12 years old and above.

The campaign which commenced today will last until December 31st 2021, and will certainly give momentum to the vaccine rollout process in Iraq to reach up to 40% vaccination covertage rate among the general population by end of this year.

"COVID 19 continues to be the biggest challenge of our time and we must all unite to overcome this devastating public health threat as no one is safe until we are all safe," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq.

"WHO and the Ministry of Health in Iraq raised the challenge to vaccinate the maximum number of people possible to control the COVID19 Pandemic as soon as possible, under the theme of "COVID19 Vaccine is a gateway to a normal life". Vaccination has today come in a new outfit and will be delivered in easy-to-access sites, open for long working hours extending to the evening. There will be a lifesaving dose of immunity against this vicious disease for every Iraqi, no one should be left behind" Dr. Zouiten added.

This new external vaccination setting will witness the opening of more than 100 external mass vaccination sites distributed to the 18 Iraqi governorates based on the demographic situation, health indicators, and capacity of each governorate. The sites will further be supported by more than 225 vaccination and direct registration teams deployed with the required daily supply of vaccine doses.

This new COVID 19 inoculation arrangement will support the health system in Iraq to maintain the routine immunization program which was significantly affected by the designation of the health facilities to the delivery of COVID 19 health care services in 2020-2021.

"The Ministry of Health in Iraq and WHO are happy to announce the launch of a massive COVID 19 vaccination campaign today," said Dr. Riyadh Al Hilfy, Director General of the Public Health Directorate in the Iraqi Ministry of Health. "The campaign will target a vast majority of the vaccine eligible population in Iraq through external vaccination outlets with on-spot registration. Our short-term goal is to vaccinate a minimum of 40% of our people including our children aged 12yrs upwards."

"Vaccines are now available, and we urge our citizens to go get their jabs. Let's stand by each other to overcome the difficulties resulting from this disease and bring life back to normal with our determination and the support of our partners," Dr. Alhilfy added.

The vaccine rollout process in Iraq started in March this year accessing 15.1% of the total population with the first dose and only 9.0% with the two vaccine doses as of 6 November 2021. Committed to WHO global vision of scaling the vaccination coverage in all world's countries to 40% by end of this year, the coverage rates in Iraq have raised the concern of the health authorities and WHO in Iraq and necessitated an urgent action to intensify the vaccination activities in an innovative and accessible to all approach.

"WHO would like to reiterate that we cannot end the pandemic without COVID-19 vaccines. We will stop this pandemic only when the majority of people in Iraq take the vaccine," but vaccines should be complemented by public health and social measures. WHO calls upon citizens to seize the opportunity of direct vaccine administration to stay safe and keep our loved ones safe," explained Dr. Zouiten.

WHO Iraq would like to express its gratitude to the German People and Government for their generous financial contribution which enabled the planning and the implementation of this remarkable event, the first of the kind in the region so far.

(Source: UN)

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Korea Supports Vulnerable Families in Iraq

The Republic of Korea supports vulnerable families in Iraq to put food on the table

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a US$1 million contribution from the Republic of Korea to support WFP's food assistance for up to 327,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and Syrian refugees until the end of the year, who are living in camps.

"Through the persistent pandemic and given that many families are still unable to return home, or are suffering in displacement for the second time or more, the Republic of Korea contribution will help us ensure these families are not left behind," said WFP Representative in Iraq Ally-Raza Qureshi. "Our sincere thanks to the people and government of Korea for this generous support. The Republic of Korea is WFP's long-standing partner in Iraq, helping families through this critical time."

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the lives of families, alongside rises in food prices, which makes this contribution even more timely.

"With more than 2.4. million people, including IDPs, refugees, returnees and host communities, still being in acute need of humanitarian assistance in Iraq, the Republic of Korea is making continued efforts to support its partners in addressing these requirements," said Jang Kyung-Wook (pictured), Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Iraq.

"WFP plays a critical humanitarian role in Iraq by providing emergency food assistance to those in need, and it is my sincere hope that Korea's contribution this year will help WFP continue its life-saving operations to meet the food security needs of IDPs and refugees living in camps."

In addition, WFP launched in July monthly cash assistance to displaced families who recently left camps, or who are no longer in formal camp settings. WFP assessments found that these families cannot afford the minimum food needs and are resorting to negative coping strategies such as eating less or going into debt and, hence, need continued support outside formal camp settings.

WFP's out-of-camp response is working to support 18,000 people. In parallel and as part of the UN's 'durable solutions' approach, WFP is expanding livelihoods activities dedicated for 22,000 out-of-camp IDPs and host communities in Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al-Din governorates, over 13 months.

(Source: UN)

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US provides Additional $3m COVID-19 Assistance to Iraq

The United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is pleased to announce an additional $3 million in urgent COVID-19 assistance for Iraq.

USAID's contribution will help Iraq better detect and diagnose COVID-19 infections, reduce COVID-19 cases and deaths, and broadly increase access to vaccines for Iraqis nationwide.

This assistance, implemented by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), will add up to 800 new COVID-19 vaccination locations, including in challenging humanitarian areas, such as in camps housing refugees and internally displaced persons.

It will also provide equipment and supplies, as well as technical assistance to Iraqi laboratories, clinics, and hospitals for testing, diagnosing, and treating COVID-19. USAID funding also will help train frontline workers on caring for COVID-19 patients and promote vaccination among the Iraqi public.

"As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Iraq, this latest contribution from USAID will help our local partners better protect the people of Iraq through increased vaccination centers and enhanced prevention and treatment measures," said Robert Birkenes, USAID's Acting Mission Director to Iraq. "This is an example of our ongoing commitment to help save lives and defeat the pandemic together."

USAID has committed more than $60 million since the start of the pandemic to help Iraq respond to COVID-19. The $3 million in additional COVID-19 assistance funds from the American Rescue Plan Act builds on our August donation, in partnership with the Iraqi Ministry of Health, of more than 500,000 Pfizer vaccine doses through COVAX, the global initiative to equitably distribute safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

The activities implemented with this additional support will contribute to the overall goals of the Government of Iraq's National Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan and the National Vaccine Deployment Plan.

(Source: USAID)

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ILO workshop on Maternity Protection in Iraq

ILO workshop with tripartite partners sheds light on maternity protection in Iraq

A one day workshop funded by the European Union focusing on maternity protection was organised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Baghdad on Tuesday (November 2).

The workshop, which brought together representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the women's department in the Ministry of Industry and Minerals, employers' and workers' representatives, is part of efforts to support progress towards Iraq's ratification of ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183).

The convention  seeks to ensure that the right to work and rights at work of all employed women are adequately protected during maternity and beyond. It sets standards for health protection, maternity leave, benefits, nursing, employment protection and non-discrimination.

ILO specialists on gender, social security and International Labour Standards held sessions, which focused on the key provisions of ILO Convention No.183; gaps in the legal and regulatory framework for maternity protection; the role of social security in guaranteeing maternity protection; and the broader implications of maternity protection for gender equality and women's participation in the labour market. The event also shed light on Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) .

With support from the European Union, the ILO, together with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), are implementing a joint programme with the Government of Iraq to reform social protection in the country.

The ILO, through the joint programme, is providing technical support in the development of the draft retirement and social security law. The draft law is intended to replace the current Social Security Law No. 39 of 1971. If passed, the draft law will bring in several changes that would make the Iraqi social security legislation closer to meeting the minimum requirements of International Labour Standards.

"The ongoing efforts for the ratification of Convention No.183 and Convention No.102 will enhance and increase women's access to decent work in Iraq," said Maha Kattaa, ILO Country Coordinator in Iraq.

(Source: UN)

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GE Healthcare signs deal for 22 Neonatal ICUs in Iraq

By John Lee.

General Electric Healthcare (GE) has reportedly signed an agreement with the Iraqi Ministry of Health to build 22 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) across the country.

A spokesperson for GE Healthcare in the Middle East is quoted as saying that each unit will be designed and developed to focus on providing the attention needed by high-risk newborns and various medical conditions.

He added that the company will provide all the technology, including incubators, heaters, ultrasound machines, mobile X-ray units, baby ventilators, and monitors dedicated to the requirements of neonatal intensive care units.

The units are to be built in all governorates, with five centres in Baghdad. .

(Source: Basra Governorate)

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First Women’s Protection Centre in Diwaniyah

The Governorate of Diwaniyah and UNFPA inaugurated today the first Women Protection Centre in the Governorate, with funding from Canada and Sweden.

The Centre will offer psychosocial and legal assistance,  medical counselling and protection for survivors of gender-based violence. Women and girls will be able to benefit from special programmes on empowerment, life skills and livelihood education.

The inauguration was attended by Mr Zuhair Ali Al-Shaalan, Governor of Diwaniyah,  Dr Yousra Al-Allak, Head of Women Empowerment Department and Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, as well as representatives from the civil society and women-led organisations.

Speaking at the event, the Governor highlighted the centre's importance to women and girls in Diwaniyah:

"Women play an important role in our society. Diwaniyah is proud to establish a centre that provides a comprehensive package of services for survivors of gender-based violence. When women are protected and provided with the right tools, they can thrive."

For his part, Dr Yousra Al-Allak reiterated:

"Establishing a Protection Women Centre is a very good first step. However, to ensure the proper development of Iraq, we need legislation that protects women and girls from gender-based violence and ensures their rights are preserved".

In her speech, Dr Columbia emphasised the importance of safe spaces for women and girls survivors of any form of violence. She thanked the local authorities, Women Empowerment Department and civil society for their efforts to prevent and respond to GBV.  She called on other governorates to follow this example to take concrete steps towards eliminating gender-based violence in Iraq.

Speeches also called the Parliament to adopt the Anti-Domestic Violence Law and endorse the legal framework for gender-based violence service provision and protection of women.

(Source: UN)

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$100m to Support COVID-19 Vaccination in Iraq

By John Lee.

The World Bank has approved a new US$100 million project to scale up Iraq's health sector response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Iraq COVID-19 Vaccination Project will support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations to priority population groups and strengthen the institutional systems needed to enable the safe and effective distribution and use of COVID-19 vaccine at scale.

It aims to help the country procure COVID-19 vaccines, improve its capacity to manage health care waste, and raise public awareness on the importance of vaccination against the virus.

The project builds on existing support the World Bank and other development partners have given the Government of Iraq for its COVID-19 response under the Iraq Recovery, Reform, and Reconstruction Fund (I3RF) and the Emergency Operation for Development Project.

Iraq has been one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, recording almost 2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 21,000 deaths to date.

The government began its COVID-19 vaccination campaign in March 2021 and has been able to increase coverage rapidly in the past month. More than 7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with about 11% of the population having received the first dose and 7% fully immunized with two doses.

A comprehensive, well-coordinated vaccination campaign is key to a country's future recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its economy and public health. The new project will play a critical role in ensuring affordable, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in Iraq, extending coverage to 3 million of the country's population.

"Improved access to vaccination is needed to limit the spread of the disease and lessen the burden on the already weak health system in Iraq," said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. "The new project will support Iraq in its acquisition and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, which are essential to protect lives, enable the country to reopen safely, and kickstart economic recovery."

The Iraq COVID-19 Vaccination Project falls under the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Program (SPRP), using a Multiphase Programmatic Approach (MPA) that was approved by the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors in April 2020, as well as additional financing agreed to last October. It includes a I3RF grant for vaccine delivery.

The I3RF was founded in partnership with the Government of Iraq in 2018 and is funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and Sweden. It provides a platform both for financing and strategic dialogue for development and reconstruction, with a strong focus on targeted national reforms and public and private investment in socio-economic recovery and reconstruction. The fund seeks to be a strategic platform for development coordination and dialogue, and it aims to support the climate change agenda of the country, gender equality, peace building, and citizen engagement.

World Bank financing will complement activities conducted by other development partners, filling in critical gaps to ensure the deployment of vaccine is successful. The World Bank is committed to continue supporting Iraq's efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and improve the resilience of its health system to future shocks.

(Source: World Bank)

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Agreement to Support Women in Qadisiyah

UNFPA and Qadisiyah Governorate signed a cooperation agreement on Tuesday to scale up the support to girls and women in the governorate.

The agreement signed by Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative, and Mr Zuhair Ali Al-Shaalan, the Governor of Qadisiyah will ensure that women and girls have access to protection and proper services to respond to gender-based violence.

In addition, it will provide the Directorates of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, and Interior (Family Protection Unit) with the opportunity to strengthen their expertise on service delivery to survivors to deal with gender-based violence.

Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Al-Shaalan emphasised the governorate's full support to work with UNFPA to ensure the success of the project to provide quality service to women and girls. He also reiterated the governorate's efforts to enhance the role of women and girls, increase equality in leadership roles and become a unique model for active communities to contribute to the development process.

Dr Columbia thanked the Governor for supporting the needs and rights of women and girls in Qadisiyah:

"On behalf of UNFPA Iraq, I welcome this initiative and look forward to our joint actions to protect women and girls from violence and provide them with so much needed services."

The cooperation agreement between UNFPA and the Governorate is within the UNFPA 2020-2024 Country Programme Document and the Memorandum of Understanding between UNFPA and the Government of Iraq, through the Ministry of Planning.

(Source: UN)

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Make a Difference for Iraqi Kids Today!

Dear ICF friends,

FIVE DAYS TO GO!

Our annual "In Their Shoes" 5K race weekend in Washington DC draws dignitaries, diplomats, veterans and business-people, families, and the media. This year we are going GLOBAL!

Run or walk from anywhere in the world, this September 18th. Create a team or set a personal challenge, and help us raise urgently-needed funds for Iraq's vulnerable children. You'll receive a limited edition ICF running gaiter (buff) and a digital certificate. So far, we have participants in 38 cities - will you help us make it 50??

Get ready. Join Us! Sign up now or forward this email to friends and family:

How it works:

  1. Sign up online via the RunSignup platform (link via button above), and create a fundraising page if desired.
  2. Run or walk on September 18th from anywhere in the world.
  3. Finishers receive a digital certificate and a custom ICF running buff (neck gaiter).

Share the registration list: https://runsignup.com/Race/DC/WashingtonDC/2021GLOBALINTHEIRSHOES5K

The symbolism of the ICF design is very special: sunshine symbolizing hope, growth reflected in the date palm leaf and fruit of Iraq, and water marking the Euphrates and Tigris rivers which represent the historic position of Iraq as the seat of civilization. Collect this year's limited edition orange gaiter!

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AA to distribute Laboratoires Gilbert in Iraq

Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) member AA for Global Trading and Commercial Agencies has announced that it has started importing the products of Laboratoires Gilbert of France to Iraq, as per an agreement signed in 2020.

Based in France's Normandy region, Laboratoires Gilbert manufactures and markets 30 brands and 1,900 references such as Physiodose, Physiolac, Dolodent, Luc and Léa, Comptoir Aroma, Algotherm, Laino, Hei Poa, and Comptoir du Bain among others.

Currently, AA is the commercial agent of several brands including Metrex Research (USA), Laboratoires Gilbert (France) and Palmer's (USA).

(Source: IBBC)

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