Launch of the Iraqi Ministry of Health’s Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care Needs Assessment Results

News and Press Release
Originally published

Baghdad, 2 March 2016: The Iraqi Ministry of Health, jointly with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), launched the Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC) services assessment results. Despite the significant progress Iraq has made over the last years in reducing maternal mortality, the report illustrated enormous needs in providing the life-saving EmONC services for mothers and their babies.

According to the report, only one third of the hospitals and none of the health centers in Iraq abided to the EmONC international standards. The report also highlighted that two thirds of deliveries in Iraq take place in these facilities, deeming it necessary for the government and international actors to act instantly to upgrade these services.

The welcome speech was delivered on behalf of H.E. The Minister of Health, by Dr. Ihsan Jaffar, the Director General for public and primary health, which stated “Progress towards ending maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths depends on how well and diligent we go about improving reproductive health services including emergency obstetric care”.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Representative in Iraq, highlighted the importance of building on the momentum gained by the MDGs by ensuring access to quality emergency Obstetric and neonatal care services. He said “The report, adhering to international quality assurance standards and methodology, is the most comprehensive assessment of EMoNC services in Iraq, and will help establish a solid baseline which when combined with recent data on IDP population movement and access data, can help formulate and implement EMoNC programmes with high degree of accuracy”.

He further remarked “ As Iraq gears up to respond to a critical phase of security and humanitarian demands, addressing women’s reproductive health, in particular their emergency obstetric care is also an opportunity to put the rights and dignity of women and girls at the heart of the people-centered, equity-driven, rights-based agenda”. Mr. Balakrishnan added, that UNFPA is committed to supporting the Ministry of Health to generate a detailed action plan to upgrade EmONC services.

The Ministry of Health highlighted key elements of follow-up to the findings and recommendations of the report, which included, tailoring its Reproductive Health and Maternal and child health strategies to the study recommendations, strengthening the capacity of health providers, strengthening the health information system, addressing the issue of the medicine supply chain, and to revisit its policies and guidelines to further improve EmONC services.

The assessment was also supported by UNICEF and was technically supported from the Averting Maternal Death and Disability (AMDD) program team of Columbia University.