WHO in Iraq: Weekly Bulletin 14 - 20 Feb 2005

Situation Report
Originally published
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

- The first shipment of supplies procured as part of the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund National Drug Quality Control Laboratory Programme has been delivered into Baghdad this week. The shipment includes international reference standards, which are needed to carry out quality control testing of most of the drugs imported or locally produced in Iraq.

- WHO participated as a full member in a meeting this week of the Ministerial Committee for Drug Quantification -- a high level technical committee that provides the guidelines and procedures for quantifying needs for drugs and supplies throughout Iraq.

- WHO has finalised the Arabic version of the Iraqi National Drug Policy and is due to meet as part of the Ministerial Committee with the Ministry of Health this week, to discuss the final changes made to the draft.

- WHO continues to provide the Ministry of Health support through the provision of oxygen cylinders, in selected governorates of Iraq. For example, within Mosul WHO is supplying all the hospitals in the governorate with around 200 oxygen cylinders per day.

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

- WHO has completed the technical review of the Ministry of Health project proposal to strengthen the disease surveillance system throughout Iraq. The proposal includes workshops, advocacy meetings, supervisory visits and support to the Ministry of Health national technical committee. The activities will be conducted in all governorates and the private sector will be included in four regional meetings, in order to discuss and facilitate the issue of private sector reporting to the surveillance system. WHO will support many of the activities planned in the project -- to an amount of US$ 86,940.

- WHO is to support the Ministry of Health in their communicable disease vector control activities nationwide in Iraq, to an amount of US$210,372. The support will include training workshops, meetings, raising public awareness, providing fellowships for Ministry staff at the central and governorates levels and the provision of a variety of much-needed supplies and kits.

- WHO received all of the kits needed to conduct the Iraqi Viral Hepatitis Study, into Amman this week. The study is to be carried-out in order to ascertain the prevalence and incidence of all types of Viral Hepatitis in Iraq. The kits are to be shipped directly to the Central Public Health Laboratory (Baghdad) this week.

Environmental Health

- WHO succeeded in training 16 laboratory technicians from both the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works, in a ten day workshop held in Amman on 'Simplified Procedures for Water Examination' this week. This vital training forms part of the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund Water Quality Control Programme.

- WHO is to support a team of three Iraqi officials to attend the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) Committee meeting on fats and oils, which will be held from the 21st -- 25th February 2005, at the International Coffee Organization House, in London UK. Technical materials and background information on the meetings and how the CAC and it specialised committees function were provided to the delegation by WHO. Iraqi participation at such an international authoritative forum on food matters is an encouraging development to see after a long period of absence.

- WHO, in partnership with the Jordan Food and Drug Administration, concluded its first national food safety training course this week following a field visit to Aqaba pictured below -- the first in a series of four workshops to be undertaken over the coming month (and which were reported on last week). The second training course in the series -- which is supported by the EC/UNDP Thematic Trust Fund -- for 21 food inspectors, will start on the 21st February.

After the training course, the participants held a wrap-up meeting, during which next steps to implement the strategies and plan of action based on the specific needs of each governorate were discussed. Participants were also briefed on the joint WHO/FAO/UNIDO UNDG Iraq Trust Fund project proposal being developed to strengthen food safety programmes in Iraq. The Ministry of Health is to provide WHO with consolidated comments on the proposal, taking into consideration individual inputs provided by each food safety manger who attended the meeting.

Coordination / Other Activities / Other Information

- WHO Representative for Iraq was in Baghdad this week as part of the UN Humanitarian Team and had the opportunity to meet several Iraqi key leaders and donors as well as attending the Relief and Reconstruction Committee for Falluja.

- Discussions were held in Amman this week between WHO, the Deputy Minister for Higher Education and a delegation representing the Presidents of key Iraqi universities -- to which UNESCO also attended -- on enhancing efforts to strengthen health professional education programmes and activities.

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: