Iraq: Health Cluster Bulletin No. 11 - (November 2021)


A. Public health risks, priorities, needs and gaps

The humanitarian situation in Iraq continues to remain complex and fragile; the Anbar authorities announced the closure of Ameriyat al-Fallujah (AAF) camp on 10th November. The camp has become an informal IDP settlement and humanitarian assistance to the population continues to be provided by partners, as this population is not able to return to their Areas of Origin (AoO) due to lack of basic services, disrupted livelihoods and security concerns.
Thus, the need remains to support in-camp and out-of-camp IDPs and vulnerable returnees with essential services.

Due to several factors including funding shortfalls, program reprioritization, access constraints and lack of partner presence in some locations, the mid-year gap analysis of the response by the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG) showed substantial response gaps in some priority areas. The most acute needs were identied in ve governorates: Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewah and Salah Al Din. To cover these gaps in services for out-of-camp IDPs and returnees in the priority districts in these governorates, the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC), in consultation with the Advisory Board, issued an allocation of the Iraq Humanitarian Fund (IHF) at the beginning of November. The allocation has an overarching goal of addressing issues resulting in an increased severity of humanitarian needs in Iraq over the past year, such as increased protection challenges, deteriorated access to key health and WASH services, and loss of income, which leads to increased adjustment diculties. mechanisms. In line with the Fund's second strategic objective for 2021, the allocation aims to channel funds to underfunded areas of the humanitarian response.

On the epidemiological front, upper respiratory tract infections showed the highest number of consultations, surpassing the expected weekly caseload and threshold, as of 22nd November. Respiratory tract infections and COVID-19 cases being reported simultaneously could indicate the spread of SARS-2 virus. Acute bloody diarrhea and acute jaundice syndrome both passed the weekly expected caseload in Epi-Week 44 in some districts. There was also an increase in suspected leishmaniasis during the reporting period.

The community transmission of COVID-19 country-wide ranged from low to moderate, except in Kurdistan where it has been classified as substantial. Activities to ramp up the vaccination coverage were initiated in November by MoH/WHO in all 18 governorates of the country.

A new report released in November by UN Women highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women's safety at home and in public spaces. At the same time, in Iraq, the limiting beliefs and feelings of insecurity of women are having significant negative impacts on the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Women are less vaccinated than men and often refuse to receive their second dose. Several reasons are given, in particular the fear of infertility which could be caused by the drug composition of the vaccine.