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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1.9m Iraqi Children to be Vaccinated against Polio

More than 1.9 million Iraqi children in high risk governorates to be vaccinated against polio

On Sunday, Iraqi health authorities, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF began a mass polio vaccination campaign targeting more than 1.9 million children under the age of five.

The campaign will be conducted in locations across Iraq, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which, like previous disease outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies has disrupted access to essential health services, including routine immunization. The campaign is urgent because even brief interruptions of vaccination programmes leave cohorts of infants unprotected, making outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, like polio and measles more likely.

"The complexity of ensuring that children in Iraq remain safe from vaccine-preventable diseases while at the same time responding to COVID-19 is enormous, but we must continue to do all that we can to protect children against avoidable suffering and death caused by vaccine-preventable disease. WHO and its partners are working past the COVID-19 challenges by ensuring continuity of vaccination efforts against childhood threats such as polio" said Dr Adham Ismail, WHO Representative for Iraq.

"The Oral polio vaccine will be safely delivered both door to door and at fixed points in health facilities to ensure that we reach all children under the age of five regardless of their previous vaccination status. We want to make sure that no no child is left behind, no matter where they are," added Dr Adham.

WHO supported the development of micro plans to guide vaccination teams day by day, mobilized and trained 862 supervisors and more than 4294 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.

In order to ensure that the appropriate precautions are taken to maintain COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) during the campaign, UNICEF trained all vaccinators in IPC skills and equipped many of them with personal protective equipment in order to ensure their safety and the safety of the target communities.

In addition, UNICEF donated the entire stock of polio vaccines for the campaign and has provided the equipment needed to keep vaccine doses at the right temperature, thereby ensuring their effectiveness. It also developed educational materials such as informational videos and posters, to raise awareness about the importance of immunization and encourage caregivers to vaccinate children. In addition, UNICEF trained 400 community volunteers to raise awareness, track rumours, and counter misinformation with accurate information about the vaccine and its benefits.

"Along with our partners in government, we have a responsibility to make sure that communities are engaged, aware that vaccines are the most cost-effective and safe way of protecting children against many diseases, and that they are mobilized to participate in vaccine delivery programmes. Every child born has a right to a healthy life," explained Ms Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq.

The five-day campaign will target children in 46 districts in sixteen governorates, including Baghdad (Baghdad-Resafa and Baghdad-Karkh), Babylon, Anbar, Dahuk, Erbil, Kerbala, Kirkuk Missan,Muthanna, Thi-Qar, Najaf, Ninewa, Salah Al-Din , Suleymaniya, Wassit and Basra. The locations were selected based on the health risks of children in each, polio surveillance indicators, children's immunisation profiles and existing gaps. Other factors considered included the population numbers, geography and environmental risks.

(Source: UN)

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Awareness is Key to Flattening COVID-19 Curve

Awareness is key to flattening the COVID-19 curve in Iraq

The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Iraq, today began a major COVID-19 awareness-raising campaign targeting people living in high-risk and heavily affected areas in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

The campaign will mobilize more than 250 community volunteers to deliver critical information, education and communications materials to approximately 6 million people living in 10 heavily populated districts for 4 weeks from 29 June to 28 July 2020.

"Health is the responsibility of all, and raising people's awareness is essential to containing the aggressive spread of COVID-19," said Dr Adham R. Ismail, WHO Representative in Iraq. "WHO, the Ministry of Health, partners and donors are working hand in hand to fight this pandemic, and until a vaccine is developed we have to unite our efforts to flatten the curve and keep our communities healthy and safe," he added.

The campaign will use mobile screens, booths and mobile medical clinics to display WHO educational videos and audio messages on a variety of protective and disinfection measures. State and private radio and TV channels will support the campaign with daily messages for the month. In addition personal protection packages containing masks, hand sanitizers, campaign slogan T-shirts and caps, COVID-19 awareness-raising flyers and other educational materials will be distributed to people in public places, main streets and bazaars.

Iraq recently reported a significant increase in the number of cases in Baghdad after lockdown measures were eased nationwide. Health authorities have tied the increase in numbers to increased testing capacity and improved active surveillance and weak adherence of people living in crowded districts to adopting protective measures as recommended by WHO and the Ministry of Health, such as practising good hand hygiene and social distancing and wearing masks.

The campaign includes support from key religious figures who have mobilized thousands of mosques in the capital to disseminate audio messages. "With no cure yet but prevention, we have to continue educating our people on the importance of following the health advice of WHO and the national health authorities to save our lives and protect our health workers," a cleric attending the campaign opening in Sadir City, where the vast slums of eastern Baghdad are located, commented.

"WHO is aware of the challenging impact of the lockdown and movement restrictions on the limited and daily income which families in many areas in Baghdad earn. However, the Organization urges all individuals to follow safety measures and wear masks in gatherings and public places, keep hands clean, and pratise social distancing to stop transmission of the virus," Dr Adham stressed.

WHO would like to extend its thanks to the Government of Kuwait and the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) for co-funding this campaign, and to WHO's implementing partner the United Iraqi Medical Society for supporting its implementation.

(Source: WHO)

WHO: Iraq Lockdown Decision “Necessary”

The World Health Organization (WHO) in Iraq is urging Iraqis to follow the instructions of the health authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19 after a rise in infections, stressing that the re-introduction of a complete lockdown in Iraq was a necessary measure in the fight against the virus.

WHO Representative in Iraq, Dr. Adham R. Ismail, reaffirms WHO's continued support for and cooperation with the health authorities in Baghdad and in the Kurdistan Region to ensure the success of the measures to combat COVID-19.

Dr. Ismail calls upon Iraqis across the country to commit to the highest levels of preventive measures and adhere to the lockdown to help the health authorities contain the spread of the virus. He also calls upon the authorities to strictly apply the lockdown measures coupled with intense testing of suspected cases through contact tracing and active surveillance. "These measures can only achieve the desired results with the collaboration of all."

As of 31 May 2020, Iraq reported 6,439 cases, reflecting an increase in the average daily reports which is due to intensive active surveillance activities conducted by the health authorities to detect COVID-19 cases and ensure the citizens are following the necessary preventive measures and social distancing.

(Source: UN)

UNAMI: Individual Responsibility Essential to Confront COVID-19

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) applauds the Iraqi government's leadership and decisive response to the COVID-19 outbreak at a time when it is also confronting separate crises, including social unrest and an unprecedented economic downturn.

The UN commends the determination shown by local, regional and national authorities to contain the virus, as well as the success of the early and sustained measures that were adopted with strong support from communities. It nevertheless warns that each and every person plays a critical role in facing the ongoing second wave of infections observed across many governorates.

Recalling her recent statement to the UN Security Council, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert stressed that "no amount of government response can succeed without the active involvement of the entire population". She added "Despite the high hardship imposed by these measures, we know that they represent our best hope of getting back on our feet as soon as possible".

The entire United Nations family, with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the lead, is providing critical assistance to Iraq to face the pandemic, including lab and medical supplies, personal protective equipment, funding and technical advice.

"Iraqis can continue to count on the steadfast support of the United Nations during their time of need. The ultimate responsibility lies with individuals, who must play their part by following the instructions of the health authorities to protect themselves and their families'', the Special Representative concluded.

(Source: UN)