WHO provides Medical Supplies for recent Cholera Outbreak

WHO Provides Sulaymaniyah with urgent medical supplies to prepare for and respond to the recent Cholera outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) dispatched an urgent consignment of medicines and medical supplies to Sulaymaniyah governorate in the (KR-I) to support the Regional Ministry of Health in KR-I step up its response to the sudden cholera outbreak in the region.

The consignment comprised 4 pallets of medicines and medical supplies, including infusion sets, antibiotics, and intravenous fluid (ringer lactate) to cover the needs of a population of approximately 5000 people for a duration of 3 months.

The Minister of Health in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Dr. Saman Hussain Barzangy attended the handover and expressed concern over the sudden increase in acute diarrhea cases in Sulaymaniyah and a few other Iraqi governorates. "13 Cholera cases were confirmed by the laboratory among which 10 are in Sulaymaniyah. We are following the situation closely and have scaled up surveillance, preparedness and response activities, and hope to be able to contain the outbreak in the coming weeks in close collaboration with WHO and other partners" Dr. Barzangy said.

The Ministry of Health in KR-I is working with the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) and have requested support to test 56 additional samples taken from Sulaymaniyah. As of 20 June 2022, 13 cholera cases from Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk, and Muthanna, were confirmed by the CPHL.

"The increase in new Cholera cases in Sulaymaniyah and other governorates is a reason for concern for WHO and the MOH, as it is coming on the backdrop of the COVID19 pandemic and other epidemic-prone outbreaks that the country is still battling. However, WHO is committed to supporting the Ministry of Health both in Baghdad and in Kurdistan, to prepare for and respond to this outbreak and lower the impact on the population, including on the vulnerable groups of women, children, and the low-income communities," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq.

"We are also calling upon our funding partners, stakeholders, WASH sector, and health cluster members to enhance collaboration with the local health authorities to ensure a proactive and coordinated approach to cholera response across Iraq," Dr. Zouiten added.

It is worth mentioning that cholera is a waterborne bacterial infection that can spread quickly through a population. The disease is primarily contracted by consuming water or food contaminated with the cholera bacteria, Vibrio cholera. It causes uncontrollable diarrhea that, if left untreated, can result in dehydration or death.

(Source: UN)

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WHO marks 5 Yrs of Strategic Partnership with USAID in Iraq

WHO marks five years of strategic partnership with USAID in Iraq

The World Health Organization (WHO) marks the five-year milestone of its strategic partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support the provision of life-saving and essential healthcare services to vulnerable populations in Iraq.

Over the past five years, USAID has provided WHO Iraq with support totalling US$122 million.

Dr Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative in Iraq, said@

"USAID has been the biggest funding partner of WHO in Iraq over the past five years. We're proud of this genuine and growing partnership, which helped us expand access to much-needed healthcare services for millions of people in different governorates.

"We greatly value and appreciate this impactful partnership, and we're exploring new opportunities to deepen this collaborative partnership further."

Impact of USAID's contribution

Thanks to the generous contribution from USAID, over 6 million primary health care consultations, including mental and physical rehabilitation services, were provided to Iraqi citizens, while over 1,500 individuals benefited from various capacity building training.

USAID support also provided 56 new ambulances to the Iraqi health system, helping to ensure uninterrupted access to referral services. Funds also went to delivering essential medicines, medical supplies and diagnostic equipment to various conflict-affected governorates to provide comprehensive primary health care services to millions of people, including around 300,000 Syrian refugees and host communities in Erbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah governorates.

In addition, USAID has contributed to WHO-Iraq's preparedness and response to COVID-19 by adding up to 800 new COVID-19 vaccination locations, including in challenging humanitarian areas, such as in camps housing refugees and internally displaced persons.

It is also providing equipment and supplies, as well as technical assistance to Iraqi laboratories, clinics, and hospitals for testing, diagnosing, and treating COVID-19. USAID funding is also helping train frontline workers on caring for COVID-19 patients and organizing awareness-raising campaigns.

Heather Schildge, Acting USAID Mission Director to Iraq, said:

"The United States is the leading humanitarian assistance provider in Iraq. We are pleased to celebrate five years of fruitful partnership with the WHO and stand committed to working with the Government of Iraq and other partners to provide critical services to Iraq's most vulnerable populations."

(Source: UN)

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Rapid Response Team for Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever

WHO builds capacity of rapid response team in Iraq with a focus on Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

The World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with the Ministry of Health in Iraq, concluded today a three-day workshop aimed at building the capacity of the country's rapid response team (RRT) in field investigation and response, with an emphasis on the recent outbreak of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).

The workshop, organized in collaboration with the Government of Japan, targeted 42 participants, including physicians, veterinarians, lab technicians, health workers and zoonotic diseases investigators from 13 Iraqi governorates.

"Rapid response teams constitute a pillar in human security and have contributed to containing outbreaks of epidemic- and pandemic-prone diseases in Iraq and beyond. This training, which used CCHF as a case study, will further equip the RRT with knowledge and capacities to control any future outbreaks of this anthropo-zoonotic disease in Iraq and regionally," said Dr Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative in Iraq.

"We are very grateful for the collaboration with the Government of Japan, which enabled us to conduct this important training workshop and are looking forward to further collaboration to strengthen health security in Iraq. We're also pleased with the effective cooperation between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and WHO to tackle this disease," he added.

During the workshop, experts from the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and WHO country office in Iraq discussed the national zoonotic disease preparedness and response plan in the context of One Health.

The team delivered various presentations focused on infectious hazard prevention and preparedness, including rapid risk assessment, case management, risk communication and community engagement, data management, and report writing. Working group exercises followed each of these sessions, with participants divided into multisectoral teams similar to the constitution of RRTs in the field.

The CCHF virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter. Most cases have occurred among people working in the livestock industry such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians.

The disease has been endemic to Iraq since 1979, with few sporadic cases reported across the country. At times, small outbreaks have been reported, with the last outbreak happening in 2021 with 18 cases confirmed in Thi-qar and Ninawa Governorates.

(Source: WHO)

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WHO provides Medical Supplies to KRI for COVID-19 response

The World Health Organization (WHO) handed over more than 20 tons of urgently needed medical technologies to the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The 117-pallet consignment contains a variety of emergency medical devices, mechanical and intensive care unit beds, personal protection equipment (PPEs), and in-kind medical furniture that will contribute to boosting the quality of medical care services and enhancing the local health authority's preparedness to encounter a potential transmission of the Omicron variant in what is considered as the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq.

"I am happy at the level of collaboration between the Ministry of Health in Kurdistan Region of Iraq and WHO and would like to thank all the hard efforts behind this continued support," said Dr. Saman Barzangy, Minister of Health in KR-I. "This shipment of emergency medical supplies will surely make a difference in the quality and quantity of health care services delivered in our health institutions. Hundreds of thousands of people will now ensure better access to essential and emergency health care services including COVID-19 treatment," H.E. Dr. Barzangy added.

After the significant decrease in COVID-19 infections in the last months of 2021, helped by the rise in numbers of vaccinated people across Iraq, the infection figures started to surge again recently alarming of a new wave of the pandemic in the country, which could relate to the detection of the Omicron variant in the northern city of Duhok in KR-I and the capital Baghdad on 6 January this year.

"This consignment complements the previous emergency and lifesaving support presented to enforce the local health authorities' response to the new surge in Omicron variant cases," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq.

"We are concerned about the recent drive in case numbers which we see as a call for a collective action to promote the local prevention and vaccination efforts. WHO and the Ministry of Health on both the Central and Kurdistan Regional levels share the same goal of working to protect the Iraqis and save lives through accessible, sustainable, and affordable quality health care services across the country," Dr. Zouiten added.

It is worth mentioning that in 2021, WHO Iraq supported the Ministry of Health in KR-I with medical equipment and pharmaceuticals worth of over US$2.5 million. The support assisted in augmenting the provision of essential and emergency health care services in the KR-I governorates and productively contributed to addressing the dire health needs of the region's community which continues to host nearly a quarter of a million Syrian refugees and over 1 million internally displaced Iraqis.

The World Health Organization in Iraq would like to express its gratitude for the generous contribution from the People and Government of Germany, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the People and Government of Kuwait for assisting in funding this medical and lab support.

(Source: UN)

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COVAX gives Iraq 2.9m Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

Over 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Iraq this month, bringing the total vaccines procured for this country through the COVAX Facility to over 6 million doses.

Vaccination rates in Iraq have recently been a priority of national health authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and other health partners.

As of 1 November, the vaccination services were significantly expanded across the country where over 120 external vaccination sites were set out Iraq-wide to target 12 million people including children aged 12 years and above.

The local health authorities, WHO, UNICEF, and other health actors are collaborating on efforts to rapidly increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage by end of this year.

"The Ministry of Health of Iraq affirms the continuity of its efforts to provide vaccines procured through the COVAX Facility, of which Iraq is a partner, and to increase the number of  outlets to increase vaccine uptake in the shortest possible period. The Ministry would like to thank all our local and international partners for their efforts to make the vaccine accessible to all eligible recipients in Iraq," said Iraqi Acting Minister of Health and Environment, Hani Mousa Badr Al-Akabi.

UNICEF, WHO and the Iraqi Ministry of Health have, moreover, intensified the vaccine uptake activities in the past few months, by building the capacity of the local delivery system in Iraq and engaging communities in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout process. Collaborative work on the timely procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines is also ongoing, and more doses of WHO-approved vaccines are expected to arrive over the next few months.

"We welcome the arrival of these vaccines as they arrive at a time where Iraq is stepping up efforts to contain the pandemic. This shipment is an important part of the continuing fight against COVID-19 in Iraq," said UNICEF Representative in Iraq, Sheema Sen Gupta.

"We cannot end the pandemic without the vaccine. However, vaccines alone do not replace the need for public health and social measures; they complement them," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq. "These recent vaccine shipments from COVAX are a step in the right direction in our joint quest to increase population immunity against COVID-19 in Iraq," Dr. Zouiten added.

The COVAX Facility is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide.

These deliveries of BioNTech Pfizer vaccines to Iraq are another milestone towards the COVAX Facility's goal on access. In addition to ensuring sufficient vaccine supply, partner agencies are working to ensure community awareness and provide support to vaccine administration by local health authorities. WHO, UNICEF, and other key health contributors are striving to end this pandemic in Iraq, and globally, as quickly as possible.

(Source: UN)

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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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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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US Donates COVID-19 Vaccines to Iraq

The United States Donates More Than 500,000 COVID-19 Vaccines to Iraq

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew H. Tueller joined Iraqi Acting Minister of Health Hani al-Oqabi and other partners to receive the delivery of more than 500,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to the Iraqi Ministry of Health as part of the ongoing partnership of the United States with the people of Iraq.

The vaccines were delivered via COVAX in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The United States provided these 503,100 vaccine doses free of charge to Iraq in reflection of our commitment to our shared fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.  This commitment was one of several made during the most recent session of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue, held in Washington, D.C., July 23-26.

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has provided more than $60 million to Iraq to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The United States is proud to partner with the Iraqi people to help save lives and defeat COVID-19.  Together, we will continue to build a world that is safer and more secure against the threat of infectious disease," said Ambassador Tueller.

This delivery of vaccines helps fulfill the White House global vaccine sharing allocation plan, announced on June 3, 2021, that prioritized an allotment for Iraq.

As President Biden promised, the United States is sharing vaccines with Iraq and many other countries to save lives and lead the world in ending the pandemic.

These safe and effective vaccines are key to protecting Iraqi lives and boosting Iraqi economic recovery.

(Source: US Embassy)

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New Report on Iraqi Health Sector

The report offers a description of the structure of the health sector in Iraq.

The categories and stakeholders that comprised the sector. Mainly the public and the private sector, alongside, international agencies that work in Iraq.

These agencies include the likes of the World Health Organization, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, UNICEF, the Iraq Health Access Organization, and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Many of which have been in Iraq for decades, offering assistance and partnerships with the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Click here to download the full report.

(Source: Kapita, in partnership with GIZ)

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Iraq receives First Delivery of Vaccines through COVAX Facility

Iraq receives the first delivery of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility

Amid a global shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, Iraq has finally received 336 000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility, a partnership co-led by Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi - The Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

The AstraZeneca vaccines, manufactured by SK-Bio Institute of South Korea, arrived on Thursday 25 March 2021, and were received at Baghdad International Airport by the Minister of Health, Iraq, His Excellency Dr Hassan Mohammed Al-Tamimi, accompanied by the teams of the MOH, WHO and UNICEF.

This is a historic step towards the global goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world and is part of a first allocation of vaccines to Iraq. Further consignments of 1.1 Million COVAX vaccine doses are planned for Iraq in the coming weeks and will continue to cover 20 per cent of the population before the end of 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic still has a long a way to run in Iraq and around the world, as intense transmission is ongoing and is putting enormous pressure on hospitals, intensive care units and health workers. While the preventive measures can be effective in reducing transmission of the virus, their effectiveness depends on strict application by all citizens.

The arrival of the vaccines and the launch of a nationwide vaccination campaign will be a game changer in the battle against COVID-19. However only when more than 80% of the eligible population are reached, will a significant reduction in transmission be achieved.

His Excellency Dr Hassam Mohammed Al-Tamimi, Minister of Health, Iraq, said:

"Today, vaccines that were expected in the country since the last week of February have finally arrived. Although Iraq finalized all the requirements for the COVAX facility in time, delays in the global production and shortages of vaccines within the COVAX Facility delayed this shipment. The vaccines received today have recently received the Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization and will be a game changer in the response to COVID19 Pandemic in Iraq."

"The Ministry of health will immediately dispatch these vaccines to all departments of health in Baghdad, in all governorates and Kurdistan to be used for protecting people within the priority groups according to the national vaccine deployment plan and framework."

Dr Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative, Iraq, said:

"This is a historical landmark in the response to COVID-19 in Iraq, receiving and utilizing these vaccines is a step in the right direction in controlling the pandemic in Iraq. Indeed, these vaccines have proven to be very safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 infections, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death."

"We wish to congratulate the Ministry of Health and the Government of Iraq for all the efforts deployed for the response to COVID19 in general, and for securing the arrival of these life-saving vaccines in the country. As more vaccines are receiving the WHO Emergency Use listing, and more doses of vaccines are manufactured globally, we will be looking forward to receiving more allocations and more vaccines from the COVAX facility in the coming weeks and months."

Mr. Paul Edwards, UNICEF's acting Representative to Iraq, said:

"UNICEF and WHO have been working with the Ministry of Health around the clock to make sure that Iraq has enough syringes, vaccination cards, and state-of-the-art cold chain facilities to store the vaccines safely, in anticipation of this day. We have also trained thousands of health workers in vaccination centers across Iraq.

"We have been waiting for this day for months. Vaccines are among the greatest advances of modern medicine. They are a protective shield, keeping families and communities safe."

While these vaccines are being rolled out, the Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF urge all people in Iraq to continue observing public health measures that are in place, such as wearing masks at all times, physical distancing, air ventilation, proper hand hygiene and avoiding congested gatherings and settings.

(Source: UN)

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