WHO in Iraq: Weekly Bulletin 17 - 30 Jan 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 and the MOH are now finalising the list of health facilities to be rehabilitated as part of the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund Primary Health Care Programme; this follows the rehabilitation needs assessment in November 2004, of Primary Health Care facilities in the 19 districts (one in each governorate, with two in Baghdad).

- WHO is to rehabilitate the only hospital in Umm Qasr, for which plans and drawings are soon to be finalised. The rehabilitation forms part of the "Community Support Project for Umm Qasr", an inter-agency project being led by UNDP in collaboration with other concerned UN organizations (WHO, UN-HABITAT and UNICEF) to adequately and effectively cover the basic education, health, water, sanitation and infra-structural needs of Umm Qasr.

- On the 19th January, WHO met a team from the Basra Department of Health (DOH) - led by its Director General - and discussed the progress of the implementation of WHO supported projects and programmes. The Basra DOH Team briefed WHO on the current medical supply system and the challenges faced by the DOH, which include among others:

  • Addressing the leakage of drugs from the public sector to the private sector;

  • The increasing number of illegally opened pharmacies;

  • The need to coordinate the medical supply system for both the private and public sector;

  • The importance of a robust drug monitoring and quality assurance system, which will facilitate a rapid response to drug shortages.
  • The Minister of Health agreed in a video conference with WHO this week, to develop a master plan to implement the National Medicines Policy over the next 3-5 years. WHO will provide the required technical support to the MOH, which will include a further meeting in Amman.

- Over US$ 23.3 million worth of supplies were ordered by WHO, in 2004 for the implementation of the following programmes: Strengthening Primary Health Care Services (20%) Mental health and Non Communicable Diseases (16%) Re-activation of the National Centre for Drug Control and Research-NCDCR (14%), Food Safety Programmes (13%), Response to drug shortages (11%), Public Health Laboratories (8%), Rehabilitation of Iraqi Blood Transfusion Services (8%), Water Quality Control (7%), Emergency response through local procurement (2%), support to medical education (1%) and Malaria control (less than 1%).

In the second half of 2004, goods valued at circa US$ 9.5 million were delivered into Jordan, for onward forwarding to Iraq, out of which about US$ 7.6 million (80%) have already been delivered to the project sites in Iraq and are being used to improve the health status of Iraqi population.

- The Public Clinics Directorate - the MOH body coordinating the countrywide distribution of these drugs - has revealed that there were no shortages of drugs for chronic diseases in January 2005.

Prevention and Control of Diseases - Communicable and Non-Communicable

- WHO has conducted a review of a HIV/AIDS project proposal for Iraq; one of the main issues included in the proposal is a review of the national strategic plan for HIV/AIDS. WHO will support the process towards the finalization of a full HIV/AIDS strategy, including the situation and response analysis, drafting the strategic plan and resource mobilisation.

- WHO-Iraq and the WHO-Regional Office have completed a technical review of a proposed Vector Control Program for Iraq. The proposed programme will include different activities, such as entomological surveillance, rodent control campaigns, spraying in waste dumping and garbage collecting sites, training workshops and meetings, raising public awareness and enhance the program monitoring and supervision activities.

- It has been agreed in a video conference with the MOH, that an MOH team will go to Falluja to conduct a rapid assessment on the prevalence of rodents and vectors.

Mother, Child and Reproductive Health

- The MOH - supported by WHO - participated in the WHO/UNFPA Strategic Partnership Programmes Regional Workshop in Cairo/Egypt from the 14th - 18th January 2005, on making pregnancy safer and family planning evidence based guidance. An action plan was drafted to implement evidence based guidelines in Iraq, starting from April - December 2005.

Environmental Health

- WHO and the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA) met on the 27th January 2005 to finalise the preparations of a series of national food safety training courses for food control managers, food inspectors and food control laboratory technicians. The first course will be attended by 23 food control managers from the Ministry of Health and all DOH governorates in February.

Human Resource Development for Health

- Due to the security situation and the closure of the Iraq / Jordanian borders during the election period, two human resource development events were postponed. Namely, participation in an AFP Surveillance Review in Yemen, and participation in the International Working Group on WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Coordination Activities / Other Activities / Other Information

- There is a reported shortage of some drugs and medical supplies in Mosul - I.V.F. X-ray films, surgical thread, some laboratory reagents, Allermin and hydrocortisone ampoule - which are having a negative impact upon the services provided by the health facilities in Mosul.

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: