Iraq launches the Second Vaccination Week toward Reaching MDG 4

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Baghdad, 27 April 2011 (WHO): “Partnership for Immunization” By launching the second national vaccination week, Iraq calls all partners to stand together and make the prevention of diseases a priority for all,” said H.E Dr. Hamad Amin Majeed, the Minister of Health in Iraq. “Together, we can protect our children from preventable deadly diseases in 2011 and beyond.”

Immunization is one of the most important successful and cost-effective intervention a family can take to help assure their children grow up to be strong and healthy in their community. Millions of cases of disease and thousands of deaths in children can be prevented each year through the most effective tools of immunization.

This year is unique for Iraq, during the immunization week that started on 24th and will last till 30th where all Iraq’s community will be engaged in a variety of innovative and combined advocacy, education and communication activities in all over Iraq on the importance of immunization to save children from needless suffer, the new vaccine package including its treatment, vaccine schedules, registration and admission.

Dr. Syed Jaffer Hussain, WHO Representative - Iraq stated: “Iraq Immunization Week aims to help Iraq’s advanced plans to ensure a universal immunization by using the power of advocacy and targeted communication to boost awareness and increase the success of immunization programmes.” Adding that, “these efforts aim to reach people who have not been immunized or did not receive all the needed vaccinations.”

According to Ministry of Health estimates, 93% of infants received the first DPT1 dose, whereas, 84% received the DPT3 dose, however 9.8% failed to come to the third dose. “Some of those who are not immunized live in insecure areas. They lack access to basic health services. Others are not immunized due to little awareness.

Iraq, made great strides have been made to expand immunization for preventable diseases. Achievements include strengthening surveillance system, where hundreds of Iraqi health workers received training on detection, reporting investigation and conducting necessary vaccination. The Iraqi media also conducted awareness campaigns to support these efforts with the government full participation. In the last few years, Iraq has shown a tremendous change towards measles outbreak and how cases declined from 30328 in 2009 to 462 in 2010.

During this week, the Ministry of Health with the full support of WHO and UNICEF will expand its vaccination services, where more than 1600 vaccinators are providing routine immunization services through Primary Health Centers, through programmes targeting unreached and unvaccinated children in low coverage areas in addition to outreach programmes and mobile activities all over the country. In addition, 2000 volunteers will visit houses in the 19 governorates to educate families and mothers about the new and improved vaccines and the importance of immunization. Series of events will take place in schools, academic institutions, and civil societies.

Dr. Hussain affirmed the organization’s support to reinforce its commitment towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal 4, which aims to reduce child death by two-thirds by 2015. This year’s theme demonstrates the Region’s vision and strategy in addressing the value of immunization, promote and maintain immunization as a priority for policy-and decision-makers, advocate for and mobilize human and financial resources, and finally improve access to immunization for high-risk populations and outreached areas in the Regions.

For more information, please contact:
Ms. Ruba Hikmat, Media and Communication Officer, WHO- Iraq. Tel. +96279-5096066,
Dr Omar. Mekki, Medical Officer , WHO- Iraq ,