WHO in Iraq: Weekly Bulletin 31 Jan - 06 Feb 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

- On the 3rd February, the Iraqi Ministry of Health held a one day national symposium to discuss the final draft of the Iraqi National Medicines Policy. The symposium, which was held in Baghdad, was chaired by the Minister of Health and attended by Iraqi health professionals from universities, the Iraqi Syndicate of Pharmacy and senior officials from the MOH. WHO provided technical advice in the development of the policy and actively participated in the symposium. Another meeting to conclude the review of the policy is scheduled later this week.

- According to MOH reports shared with WHO, all chronic drug needs for Iraq are sufficient for the month of February, except for one item, dipyridamol 75 mg tablet (a medicine used in the treatment of angina pectoris), which only has stock available to cover 75% of the patient needs.

- The physical rehabilitation of the National Drug Quality Control Laboratory is progressing well and is currently 30% implemented.

Prevention and Control of Diseases - Communicable and Non-Communicable

- WHO supported two Iraqi participants from the MOH in attending the International Health Regulations Meeting, which was conducted in Cairo, Egypt from the 1st - 3rd February 2005. The objectives of the meeting were:

  • To share experiences and information related to the revision process of the International Health Regulations (IHR) with Member States;

  • To identify and reach a Regional consensus on acceptable amendments for the proposed revised IHR.

- 103 cases of Malaria - with no attributable deaths - were reported in Iraq during 2004, compared to 1,029 cases reported in 2002, as illustrated in the graph below and as confirmed by the MOH Communicable Disease Centre, Baghdad. In the past year WHO has supported the MOH in Malaria control with various activities, such as Malaria prevention spraying and fogging campaigns, the provision of bed nets, health education and other activities. All the cases for 2004 were parasitologically confirmed.

Reported cases of Malaria in Iraq 2002& 2004

Prevention and Control of Diseases - Communicable and Non-Communicable (cont...)

- Preparations are ongoing to conduct an emergency Vector and Rodent control campaign in Falluja, including the spraying of the garbage and water collection sites. WHO will support the MOH with technical advice, incentives for health workers and the provision of transportation. This is an effort to control the spread of diseases such as Coetaneous Leishmaniasis (a skin disease) and Visceral Leishmaniasis (a disease which affects the spleen and other internal organs).

- 60 Hepatitis A and E diagnostic kits have been delivered to the MOH Communicable Disease Centre, Baghdad by WHO-Iraq. Each kit can be used to undertake 96 tests for the presence of Hepatitis A and E.

- WHO-Iraq has coordinated between the Ministry of Health and the Becton-Dickinson Company to arrange for the training of MOH Iraqi laboratory technicians on the use of BECTEC 960 machines (BECTEC system is used for early diagnosis of tuberculosis). The training will be undertaken as soon as possible, for which WHO will continue to provide coordination.

Mother, Child and Reproductive Health

- An in-depth analysis of the last survey of Iraqi Child and Maternal Mortality, conducted in 1999, is being carried out by WHO technical staff. The analysis will verify the baseline nationwide data segregated by governorate and will identify the causes and burden of non-maternal and child deaths. Most importantly it will prepare the methodology for the next survey to be carried out by the Ministry of Health, which is essential for future Maternal and Child Health strategic planning.

Environmental Health

- Three training courses with 35 participants from the Iraqi Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Municipalities, organised by the WHO-Iraq and the WHO Regional Centre for Environmental Health Activities are currently ongoing in Amman. The participants are being trained on:

  • How to conduct a sanitary survey;

  • Geographic information systems;

  • How to determine organic pollutants, by using gas chromatography and other technical techniques.

The opening ceremony was attended by the WHO Representative for Iraq, the Jordanian Deputy Minister of Water and Irrigation and the Engineer General of the Jordan Geographic Information Centre. The 35 participants came from all governorates of Iraq and after this training is complete, they will conduct training courses within Iraq to pass on the knowledge and experience they have gained during the course.

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: