WHO in Iraq: Weekly Bulletin 21 - 27 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

Kimadia, the Iraqi State Company for Drugs and Medical Appliances, has communicated a list of 39 drugs on acute short supply for which the Ministry of Health is seeking urgent assistance from WHO. Given the lack of funds to cover such high cost emergency needs, the list is being shared with other UN agencies to explore the possibility of emergency procurement of some of the most needed items. WHO has raised the concern with the Ministry of Health regarding estimation and quantification of drug and the need for urgent updating the knowledge and skills of personnel at levels and to strengthen the logistical and distribution system.

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

Initial lab results show that water contaminated with Shigellosis may have been the cause of 300 cases of diarrhoea which were reported during the period 12-16 March 2005 in Saruchawa sub district, Rania district- Suleymania governorate. The outbreak mainly affected children and there were no deaths. There was a quick response from MOH/ Suleymania; many teams were directed to the area from the Preventive Health Department and the Paediatric & General Hospitals and the situation was brought under control. Preventive and control measures were carried out including health education through Radio and Television, treating the contaminated source of water, a field hospital was sent to the affected area and all cases requiring hospitalization have been treated. WHO Iraq is closely following the situation with the Ministry of Health through focal points.

WHO coordinated with the DOH/CDC to monitor 59 cases of Leishmaniasis reported to date in Talafar City in Ninawa. Geographical identification of the source localities were carried out and these will be included during the next spraying campaigns over the coming months.

Environmental Health

The fourth and final workshop in the present series of Food Safety Training courses was held in Amman with 25 Food Control Lab Technicians -- from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture. The training course is supported by WHO, using funds from the EC/UNDP Thematic Trust Fund. Specifically this week, the course focused on normative requirements for establishing and managing Food Laboratories, safety in the laboratory, sampling methods and specific laboratory tests applied in the determination of levels of chemical and microbiological contaminants in food items. Both the Director General for Primary Health Care and Public Health at Iraq Ministry of Health, Dr.Nima Saeed and WHO Representative for Iraq & UN Health Cluster Task Manager opened the workshop and Dr Saeed made a presentation on the National Food Safety Strategy and Plan of Action.

Coordination / Other Activities / Other Information

The Ministry of Health and WHO Iraq conduced a joint "Review Working Session" to present progress, identify bottlenecks and strategies for moving forward. Senior management from WHO regional and global offices were also involved in the review.

The UN Health Cluster members had a session with the Ministry of Health Representatives - Dr. Nima Saeed, Director General for Primary Health Care and Public Health, and the PHC National Programme Manager for UNDG ITF; Dr. Sabah Sadik, the National Advisor for Mental Health and National Programme Manager for UNDG IT Mental Health and Non Communicable Disease Programme; Dr. Iman Al Dabbagh, the Director General for Engineering and Infrastructure; Dr. Ramzi Rasool, the Director for International Health.

Also Dr. Muthana Al Omari from the Ministry of Environment discussed the joint WHO/UNICEF Water Quality control proposal.

The working sessions and review results outlined the challenges facing MoH & MOE and the UN Health Cluster in expediting implementation and in the preparation for the forthcoming Donor Meeting. One of the main aspects that still needs to be strengthened is the coordination between the various Directorates at the MOH and also among the UN Agencies and the Ministry.

The MoH Team also had an opportunity to meet Dr. Seif Abbaro, the UNDG ITF Programme Management Support Unit/UNAMI and Mr. Bisrat Aiklitu, the UNDG ITF Executive Coordinator.

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: