Iraq: House-to-house polio vaccination will reach more than five million children under the age of 5

The first 2008 round of polio NIDs led by the Ministry of Health with support of both WHO and UNICEF started all over Iraq on Sunday 26 October 2008 for a duration of five days. The NIDs is mainly supported by the Government of Iraq and partial support from European Union. The objective is to vaccinate all 5,068,918 under 5 children through house to house visits using oral poliomyelitis vaccine. Two drops are orally administered to all children age one day to 59 months.

The first reports received from day one, from 18 out of the 19 directorates of health show that 921,384 (18%) children out of the total target were reached and vaccinated.

Advocacy and awareness activities were conducted, and in all Directorates of Health the campaign was either inaugurated by the governor or the Director General of health in the presence of the WHO focal point.

For the first time since 2003, all health centers have been able to deploy house to house vaccinators teams. Safe passage of vaccinators in all targeted areas was granted. Acceptance rate by families and local communities was excellent and no serious incident was reported.

The heavy rains in some areas in the south made access to certain areas rather difficult and micro plans were changed accordingly.

On Saturday 25 October, WHO held a meeting with His Excellency the Iraqi Minister of health in Amman where was discussed the polio situation in the region. The main recommendations made underline that NIDs will continue until the routine infant immunization coverage reaches the critical level of 90 per cent. Consequently, two more rounds of NIDs will take place early in the spring 2009.