WHO in Iraq: Weekly Bulletin 07 - 13 Mar 2005

The World Health Organisation works in partnership with the Ministry of Health (and other health stakeholders) in fulfilling the Ministry's vision of the provision of accessible, affordable and available, safe and comprehensive quality health services. In working with the Ministry of Health, WHO has five mutually agreed areas of work, which encompass all WHO activities in Iraq for the biennium 2004 -- 2005. These five areas of work are: (1) Access to Quality Health Services; (2) Prevention and Control of Diseases (Communicable and Non-Communicable); (3) Mother, Child and Reproductive Health; (4) Environmental Health; and (5) Human Resource Development for Health. These areas of work -- which are consistent with both the Ministry's own strategy and the UN Health Cluster's strategic outcomes -- are used within this Bulletin, to present the activities that WHO has undertaken in the reporting period.

Access to Quality Health Services

- WHO continues to provide medical oxygen to 57 hospitals in Baghdad, 5 hospitals in Kirkuk and 12 hospitals in Ninewa. For example, the total number provided in Ninewa during February 2005 was 4,620 cylinders at a total cost of US$15, 650. This vital activity is supported under the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund Primary Health Care Programme.

Prevention and Control of Diseases -- Communicable and Non-Communicable

- World Tuberculosis Day, held annually on 24 March, commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch presented his discovery of the TB bacillus to a group of doctors in Berlin. Iraq will commemorate this momentous date from the 23 -- 24 March, with the support of WHO in its national ceremony. This year, World TB Day will focus on the efforts of frontline TB care providers and their crucial role in stopping TB. World TB Day comes at a crucial time for TB in Iraq, as the Iraqi Ministry of Health Tuberculosis Institute has recently reported that it only has stocks of medications for tuberculosis available to cover Iraq needs until July 2005. The Institute has requested the international support in providing some of the most needed anti-TB drugs, through the Global TB Drug Facility.

- WHO continues to support hospital infection control and waste management for 12 hospitals in Iraq covering 3 million people. For example, in Mosul the total amount of solid waste collected during February was circa 28 tons. This key infection control activity is supported under the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund Primary Health Care Programme.

- WHO is to support two representatives from the Ministry of Health in participating in the Inter-Country Workshop On Monitoring And Evaluation Of National Expanded Programme's Of Immunization, which will be held in Tunisia from the 15th -- 18th March 2005. The workshop is expected to highlight the new strategy of the Reach Every District approach, which aims at strengthening and following up routine immunization activities at district level. This participation is supported under the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund Primary Health Care.

Mother, Child and Reproductive Health

- The Ministry of Health and WHO have prepared the plan of action for celebrating World Health Day 2005 on the 7th April 2005. The slogan "Make every mother and child count" is incorporated into Iraq's celebration as "every Iraqi and child is precious; the Government of Iraq and the community has the responsibility of preserving it..." On this occasion the Ministry of Health is arranging the first national conference on Maternal and Child Health, to be held in Erbil from 10 -- 12 April 2005.

Environmental Health

- 25 Food Inspectors -- 12 from the Ministry of Health, Health Audit Department and 13 from different Governorate Departments of Health, Health Audit -- continue to be trained this week in Food Safety Inspection related matters. As reported last week, the third food safety training course in a series of four courses, started on 7 March and will continue until the 19th March. The training course is supported by WHO, using funds from the EC/UNDP Thematic Trust Fund. Specifically this week, the course focused on inspection procedures in different categories of food processing plants. Plants visited included slaughterhouses, canning factory, plant for dairy products, plant for soft drinks and plant for bottled water.

- Two Iraqi officials were supported by WHO in participating in two Regional Food Safety Meetings held consecutively inAmman. The first of these meetings held from 5 -- 6 March was the FAO/WHO Regional Meeting on Food Safety for the Near East. The second of these meetings, held from 7 -- 10 March was the third session of the FAO/WHO coordination committee for the Near East of the Codex Alimentarius Commission Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. WHO, along with other sister UN agencies, are committed to the continued support of the progressive return and active participation of Iraq to the international and regional scenes, promoting cooperation in food safety matters.

- WHO visited the MOH/Nutrition Research Institute in Baghdad on the 9 March 2005, to discuss with the status of the medical equipment and laboratory supplies recently delivered to the central laboratory for food control. The meeting also discussed the plan for their installation and start up operation by local representatives of the contract suppliers and/or by Kimadia's team of technicians tasked with assisting health facilities to install and repair bio-medical equipment, ordered through Kimadia, the State Company for medicines and medical appliances.

Further Information

Thank you for taking the time to read this bulletin. If you would like any further information on WHO in Iraq, please do not hesitate to contact the World Health Organisation Representative for Iraq -- Dr Naeema Al-Gasseer -- on or visit the WHO-Iraq website: