UNICEF aims to Train 30,000 Healthcare Workers

UNICEF aims to train 30,000 primary health care workers in Iraq in efforts to prevent and control Covid-19 infection

With numbers soaring since early June, as of the end of August Iraq has confirmed 231,177 cases of COVID-19 and 6959 deaths.

To stem the tide against the pandemic, UNICEF is supporting the training of an estimated 30,000 health care providers at the primary care level, with the aim of disseminating key information about COVID-19 infection, prevention and control, with a special focus on preventing infection among health providers.

Iraq is using a cascade approach for this massive exercise, with online training of 132 national officials from the Ministry of Health over four days in July, and over 580 personnel from the Primary Health Care departments at governorate- and district-level last week.

These subnational personnel will proceed to train primary care staff in person in coming weeks, thereby ensuring that their newly acquired knowledge is shared widely with other frontline health workers.

"Frontline health workers are the unsung heroes in Iraq's fight against COVID-19. Day after day, they continue to show up and provide critical services to those most in need, risking their lives," said Paula Bulancea, UNICEF's Deputy Representative in Iraq.

"This training will build on UNICEF's ongoing support to health workers and vulnerable communities in Iraq as we work together and with all of our partners in government, the World Health Organization, and in non-government organizations, to control this deadly virus," Dr. Bulancea added.

The cascade training will cover the needs of health workers providing immunization, maternal and neonatal care and nutrition services. It will also focus on water and sanitation in the primary health care setting in the context of COVID19.

"Simple acts such as washing your hands after seeing every patient, ensuring that you maintain social distancing with caregivers when vaccinating a child, and wearing a mask at all times will go a long way in ensuring that the safety of healthcare workers isn't compromised on the job," remarked Dr. Bulancea.

In addition to training health workers, UNICEF has:

  • Reached over 14 million people with risk communication and awareness in online and off-line awareness raising campaigns.
  • Distributed approximately 11,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) to front line health workers in the most affected governorates.
  • Partnered with the University of Karbala to produce 14,500 bottles of locally made hand sanitizers and 10,000 large bottles of disinfectants to disinfect surfaces, in partnership with the Karbala
  • Directorate of Health. These products were distributed in healthcare centers in Karbala and Baghdad.
  • Launched a satellite TV education channel to support 1.5 million learners in Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

(Source: UN)

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Iraq’s Locally Made Hand Sanitizer and Disinfectant

The University of Karbala produces locally made hand sanitizer and disinfectant for health facilities, in first of its kind UNICEF-supported project

In the first of its kind project since the corona virus outbreak, graduate students in the pharmaceutical department of the University of Karbala have produced 14,500 locally made hand sanitizers and 10,000 large products to disinfect surfaces, with the support of UNICEF and its partner the Karbala Directorate of Health.

Over the course of the month of June, the bottles were distributed to primary healthcare centers in Karbala and Baghdad, both which have been hard hit by covid19.

"We have been distributing hand sanitizer and soap to some of the most vulnerable communities since the beginning of the outbreak. To now be able to support Iraqis as they themselves produce items they need to protect their communities from COVID-19 is something we are proud of and that lives up to our commitment to empower local communities who are driving positive change," said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq.

The sanitizer is produced according to the highest global standards and with locally sourced raw materials. The gel is then bottled into 250 milliliters containers that are labelled and include instructions on how to use. The production cost of one bottle amounts 2 US dollars, a third of the average selling price of one hand sanitizer bottle (6 dollars) on the market.

"I am happy with the quality of the materials that we are using. I hope that our work will benefit Iraqis across the country, and not only here in Karbala," explained Karrar Abd, one of the graduate students taking part in the production.

There are already plans to produce at least 10,000 more bottles that will be distributed in the two governorates, as well as in Basra and Najaf. The production process takes up to three weeks. Once ready, youth volunteers who are trained in hygiene promotion by UNICEF distribute the bottles to public health clinics and centers. To date, the hand sanitizer bottles, and disinfectant solution have been given to 34 main Primary health care centers in Karbala and Baghdad.

"I heard so many people say that COVID-19 does not exist, which is not true. Someone in my family came into contact with the disease and transmitted it on to others. I know that hand sanitizer is the best way to prevent us from spreading COVID-19 because it ensures that we have clean hands, and therefore I wanted to work on this project. It makes me feel I am giving something to my community," explained 22-year old Zainab Hussein, one of the volunteers from Karbala who participated in the distributing.

With access to hand sanitizer, patients and health workers alike can practice hand hygiene, thereby enabling health centers to continue providing communities with essential services such as immunization and maternal health despite COVID-19. The project was made possible with generous support of the Department of International Development (DFID UK).

(Source: UN)

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)

Switzerland Supports WFP Assistance to Refugees in Iraq

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a donation of US$522,500 from the Government of Switzerland to support the food needs of nearly 24,000 refugees and internally displaced people for one month.

The funds, coming through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, will be used to provide cash assistance to 13,400 Iraqis displaced by the conflict and 10,400 Syrian refugees.

"During the ongoing pandemic, refugees and displaced persons remain among the most vulnerable in Iraq," said the Ambassador of Switzerland to Iraq Lukas Gasser.

"Switzerland continues its long-term partnership with WFP, working together to support displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugee families, to get through this difficult time of heightened need - especially as many affected people remain unable to work."

Due to increased needs caused by COVID-19, WFP has scaled up its assistance in Iraq reaching a total of 76,000 refugees and 280,000 IDPs.

"WFP expresses its continued gratitude for the steadfast support of the people and Government of Switzerland particularly during this difficult time," said WFP Representative in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag.

"Many IDPs and refugee families had begun to achieve some self-sufficiency in securing their food needs before the pandemic. Now many have lost their jobs, among the worst affected are day labourers and seasonal workers."

In ongoing efforts to mitigate COVID-19, WFP is pioneering cashless payments in camps, so that people can purchase food in a "contactless" manner. This both reduces the need for banknotes, and helps avoid the need for people to leave the camp and move around more than necessary.

Meanwhile, WFP and its partners continue awareness sessions on precautionary measures, and will begin emergency livelihoods projects as soon as it is safe, to help affected people to work again and secure their food needs.

(Source: UN)

Psychological First Aid Training in Iraq

WHO conducts remote psychological first aid training in Iraq to address COVID-19 stigma and discriminatory

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been experiencing varying degrees of fear, concern, anxiety and stress which requires psychological support to enable them to cope better with the challenges they are facing.

In Iraq, WHO identified groups in need of psychological care, with a special focus on women, and addressed their needs through a series of online training sessions on psychological first aid and how to address stigma and discrimination.

In April this year, remote psychological first aid training was provided to more than 100 participants from several organizations working in the field of mental health and psychosocial support. The training introduced the principles of providing psychological care using phones or social media outlets.

Participants were coached to deal with stigma and shame suffered by people who have contracted COVID-19. They shared observations of negative behaviours and attitudes seen as directly contributing to negative health outcomes and difficulties in accessing information on the disease in pandemic-affected locations.

One of the training participants commented: "My neighbour refused to allow his 68-year-old mother to go to the isolation facility because of stigma. It is hard for a man in Iraq to allow his mother, wife, daughter or his sister to be taken for quarantine or isolation outside the family home; community traditions and social norms don't allow it."

Other participants spoke about how people infected with COVID-19 experience severe stress due to isolation from the family, neighbours, relatives and community.

"Stigma in some areas is cultural or grounded in social beliefs around the shame of getting a communicable disease," another participant from Mosul commented. "I think a lot of people don't understand that we all are vulnerable to COVID-19; acquiring the disease can happen to anyone and we need to focus on raising awareness and educating ourselves on preventive measures, the top of which is social distancing and hand hygiene. There is no shame in going into quarantine or staying away from family and friends if you are sick."

Participants were also made aware of the important role they play in convincing the populations they serve to report suspected COVID-19 cases and encouraging them to maintain a proper and healthy lifestyle, including adopting appropriate breathing, talking, eating and body hygiene protocols.

"People with COVID-19 have to a certain level been negatively associated with stigma and discrimination worldwide," said Dr Adham R. Ismail, WHO Representative in Iraq. "WHO and the Ministry of Health and Environment jointly confirm that all people regardless of race, social status or ethnic background are vulnerable to the disease if protective measures are not properly followed." "WHO and health authorities recognize the importance of addressing the health needs of those in need and continue providing specialized services to help them feel calm and able to maintain normal life activities in this difficult time," concluded Dr Ismail.

(Source: UN)

Netherlands assists Vulnerable Displaced Persons in Iraq

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes a new donation of USD 5.6 million from the Kingdom of the Netherlands for 2019 and 2020 to assist internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, and Syrian refugees in Iraq.

This contribution is part of the global PROSPECTS Partnership aiming at joining partners’ efforts to develop a new paradigm in responding to forced displacement crises through the involvement of development actors. While Iraq recovers from conflict, the needs of its population diversify. Some 4.4 million people have returned to their homes and are restarting their lives; however, the conditions for sustainable return are not yet met across all the country.

Continued assistance for the 1.4 million displaced Iraqis and over 286,000 refugees, and the host communities, is essential to ensure a stable and peaceful recovery. The generous contribution from the Kingdom of the Netherlands will ensure the provision of legal assistance and civil documentation to internally displaced persons across Iraq, along with the provision of specialized individual and group-based psychosocial support for children.

In addition, the donation will contribute to improve the access to formal primary and secondary education for Syrian refugee children in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. H.E. Mr. Eric Strating (pictured), Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Iraq, emphasized the importance of the urgent recovery and strengthened resilience of those who have been affected and displaced by conflict. “If we truly want to assist Iraq in achieving durable stability, we cannot leave anyone behind. Assistance in the field of civil documentation, access to education, but also psychosocial support, is part of the most basic needs for people who are trying to rebuild their lives.”

Within this context, the Netherlands initiated the PROSPECTS Partnership in Iraq, aimed at strengthened cooperation of humanitarian and development partners, in order to achieve durable solutions for the 1.4 million displaced Iraqi’s and the 286,000 refugees on Iraqi soil.The recent Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment conducted from June to August 2019, shows that nearly 2.9 million individuals, including camp-based and out-of-camp IDPs as well as returnees, are missing at least one form of civil documentation.

With the generous donation from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, UNHCR will continue assisting IDPs to access legal assistance and civil documentation in collaboration with the Government of Iraq, helping them establish their legal identity, access public services, return to their homes, and exercise their basic rights.

Moreover, this contribution will support the provision of case management and psychosocial support for children survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse, and will complement education assistance aimed at ensuring access to formal education opportunities and obtaining official learning accreditation for Syrian refugee children.

“While the situation in Iraq has notably improved during the past years and the country is steadily transitioning and advancing into a new post-conflict phase, we need to continue supporting its people in their recovery and national reconciliation efforts. Particularly the more than 1.4 million Iraqis and over 286,000 refugees still affected by displacement and wishing to rebuild their lives. This generous contribution enables us to be responsive and compassionate with those that continue relying heavily on humanitarian assistance. With ongoing support, we will stand with all those affected by displacement in Iraq until complete recovery is achieved.” said Ayman Gharaibeh, UNHCR Representative in Iraq.

(Source: UN)

FAO, WFP support Sustainable Livelihoods in Iraq

Today on World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) renewed their commitment to supporting the government of Iraq in ensuring that all Iraqis have food security by 2030, with a focus on nutritious food and sustainable livelihoods.

“World Food Day is when we confirm and work to achieve our commitment towards Zero Hunger. In Iraq, FAO will be further cooperating with WFP to provide capacity development and rural income generation programmes for farmers.

FAO is supporting the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, value chains development, the fishery sector and introducing smart agriculture practices in response to country priorities and climate change impact,” said FAO Representative in Iraq Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan.

The 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and WFP fosters closer collaboration on longer-term initiatives. Activities will include restoring irrigation canals, instituting sustainable practices such as planting productive trees, and providing inputs such as seeds and tools.

Through such programmes, vulnerable people will receive an income, can get back to work following displacement due to conflict, and continue to farm and grow their own food.

As well as enhanced nutrition awareness for Iraqi citizens, in the coming year, climate change adaptation will be a priority so that communities are better able to recover from climate-related shocks. FAO and WFP are striving to build social cohesion through collective livelihoods rehabilitation. WFP recently reopened its office in Basra to help coordinate activities next year in the south, where vulnerability and poverty indicators are worst.

“In this rehabilitation phase, FAO and WFP are working on livelihoods projects to bring communities together, and contribute to improving long-term self-sufficiency,” said Abdirahman Meygag, WFP Iraq Representative. “We see our climate change adaptation activities as being crucial for food security and the country’s recovery.”

FAO and WFP will also share expertise on information management and assessments, for evidence-based programming that targets the most vulnerable. Programmes are designed together with the government, for and with communities. The two agencies will also coordinate with partners on livelihoods activities, to maximise income-generating opportunities for those in most need.

(Source: UN)

FAO, WFP support Sustainable Livelihoods in Iraq

Today on World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) renewed their commitment to supporting the government of Iraq in ensuring that all Iraqis have food security by 2030, with a focus on nutritious food and sustainable livelihoods.

“World Food Day is when we confirm and work to achieve our commitment towards Zero Hunger. In Iraq, FAO will be further cooperating with WFP to provide capacity development and rural income generation programmes for farmers.

FAO is supporting the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, value chains development, the fishery sector and introducing smart agriculture practices in response to country priorities and climate change impact,” said FAO Representative in Iraq Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan.

The 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and WFP fosters closer collaboration on longer-term initiatives. Activities will include restoring irrigation canals, instituting sustainable practices such as planting productive trees, and providing inputs such as seeds and tools.

Through such programmes, vulnerable people will receive an income, can get back to work following displacement due to conflict, and continue to farm and grow their own food.

As well as enhanced nutrition awareness for Iraqi citizens, in the coming year, climate change adaptation will be a priority so that communities are better able to recover from climate-related shocks. FAO and WFP are striving to build social cohesion through collective livelihoods rehabilitation. WFP recently reopened its office in Basra to help coordinate activities next year in the south, where vulnerability and poverty indicators are worst.

“In this rehabilitation phase, FAO and WFP are working on livelihoods projects to bring communities together, and contribute to improving long-term self-sufficiency,” said Abdirahman Meygag, WFP Iraq Representative. “We see our climate change adaptation activities as being crucial for food security and the country’s recovery.”

FAO and WFP will also share expertise on information management and assessments, for evidence-based programming that targets the most vulnerable. Programmes are designed together with the government, for and with communities. The two agencies will also coordinate with partners on livelihoods activities, to maximise income-generating opportunities for those in most need.

(Source: UN)

UNICEF Petition: Invest more in Iraqi Children

On the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, UNICEF launches an online petition asking decision-makers to invest more in Iraqi children

This week, UNICEF Iraq launched its #Pledge4Children petition to kick off its celebration of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, or CRC.

The CRC is the most ratified human rights treaty in history and the most comprehensive set of rights for children. When world leaders came together, in a rare moment of international unity, to adopt the CRC, they committed themselves to fulfilling their obligations by ensuring that every child and adolescent is able to exercise his or her full rights.

The Government of Iraq signed up to the convention in June 1994.

“By ratifying the convention, Iraq committed itself to making sure every child is protected, educated, and able to lead a healthy and fulfilling life,” explained UNICEF Iraq Representative Hamida Lasseko.

Tremendous progress has been made since then, despite years of conflict and instability in the country. More, however, still needs to be done to ensure that children in Iraq are protected and have their full rights as enshrined in the CRC, including their right to education, play, freedom, and safety.

In order to do so, UNICEF Iraq is asking the Iraqi public to endorse its #Pledge4Children online asking decision-makers to reaffirm their commitment to children’s rights.

“We are calling on all of you to show your support for children and adolescents in Iraq. Every voice counts. We want you to add yours to our campaign by signing our petition and pledge for children today,” added Ms Lasseko.

The pledge calls for decision-makers to:

  • Increase public investments in quality health care, quality education, and safe water, so that every child and adolescent has a fair chance to reach his or her full potential
  • Listen to children and adolescents impacted by our policies and services and take their voices into consideration when formulating policies that impact their lives
  • Ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence and abuse

#Pledge4Children is part of UNICEF’s year-long run of activities, workshops and partnerships to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the CRC and raise awareness about children’s rights in Iraq.

Listen to Ms. Lasseko’s full message in this video & Sign the petition and #Pledge4Children to call on Iraqi leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child in Iraq and invest more in children.

(Source: UN)

UNICEF Petition: Invest more in Iraqi Children

On the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, UNICEF launches an online petition asking decision-makers to invest more in Iraqi children

This week, UNICEF Iraq launched its #Pledge4Children petition to kick off its celebration of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, or CRC.

The CRC is the most ratified human rights treaty in history and the most comprehensive set of rights for children. When world leaders came together, in a rare moment of international unity, to adopt the CRC, they committed themselves to fulfilling their obligations by ensuring that every child and adolescent is able to exercise his or her full rights.

The Government of Iraq signed up to the convention in June 1994.

“By ratifying the convention, Iraq committed itself to making sure every child is protected, educated, and able to lead a healthy and fulfilling life,” explained UNICEF Iraq Representative Hamida Lasseko.

Tremendous progress has been made since then, despite years of conflict and instability in the country. More, however, still needs to be done to ensure that children in Iraq are protected and have their full rights as enshrined in the CRC, including their right to education, play, freedom, and safety.

In order to do so, UNICEF Iraq is asking the Iraqi public to endorse its #Pledge4Children online asking decision-makers to reaffirm their commitment to children’s rights.

“We are calling on all of you to show your support for children and adolescents in Iraq. Every voice counts. We want you to add yours to our campaign by signing our petition and pledge for children today,” added Ms Lasseko.

The pledge calls for decision-makers to:

  • Increase public investments in quality health care, quality education, and safe water, so that every child and adolescent has a fair chance to reach his or her full potential
  • Listen to children and adolescents impacted by our policies and services and take their voices into consideration when formulating policies that impact their lives
  • Ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence and abuse

#Pledge4Children is part of UNICEF’s year-long run of activities, workshops and partnerships to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the CRC and raise awareness about children’s rights in Iraq.

Listen to Ms. Lasseko’s full message in this video & Sign the petition and #Pledge4Children to call on Iraqi leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child in Iraq and invest more in children.

(Source: UN)