WHO IRAQ
Update
1-15 September 2003

CONTENTS:

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UPDATES

New interim Minister of Health

On 2 September the Iraq Governing Council appointed Dr. Khudair Abbas as the new interim Minister of Health for Iraq. Originally from Basrah, Dr. Abbas attended medical school in Baghdad and practised in Baghdad and Basrah. In 1979 he moved to Ireland to complete a fellowship and practised as a general and orthopaedic surgeon at various hospitals in the United Kingdom until his return to Iraq.

WHO’s presence in Iraq

To overcome the current security restrictions in Iraq WHO has established offices in Amman and Kuwait to support operations inside the country. A core group of international and national staff continues to work in Baghdad, Basrah and Erbil to support the Ministry of Health in disease surveillance activities, planning and implementation of public health programmes and jumpstarting of health facilities.

SUBSECTORS

Tuberculosis Service

Support to laboratory services to improve diagnosis, surveillance and control of tuberculosis is essential in the fight against the disease. Health officials from the MOH Tuberculosis Service and Communicable Diseases Centre, and Public Health and laboratory specialists from CPA are working on the rehabilitation and improvement of the Iraqi Tuberculosis Service. Some of the actions suggested are:

Support and training for laboratory technicians so that sputum smear diagnosis can be done at district rather than at regional level

Immunisation

A follow up of Defaulters Campaign started early September. Awareness campaigns and vaccination teams are organised to ensure that children under five years of age and child bearing women are immunised.

Shortages of Polio and MMR vaccines have been reported in some areas.

Drug supply distribution system

The shipment of drugs purchased under the Oil For Food Programme (OFFP) to Baghdad continues to be fluid. Fifteen truckloads of drugs and medical supplies are received in Baghdad every other day and are then distributed to governorates and health facilities.

Thirty trucks of raw material for the pharmaceutical company Samara Drugs Industries (SDI) were delivered. SDI is the main public company for the local production of drugs in Iraq.

REGIONAL OVERVIEW:

CENTRE (Ninewa, Salah al-Din, Tameem)
The incidence of whooping cough has reportedly decreased. Acute Flacid Paralysis cases have been reported in Tikrit and Mosul. Samples are now being sent to Baghdad for laboratory testing. A reported increase in malnutrition is being investigated.

The malaria and leishmaniasis spraying campaigns are due to start in the area.

LOWER SOUTH (Muthanna, Thi Qar, Basrah, Missan)
The incidence of diarrhoea and whooping cough has decreased in Lower South in the last weeks. Cholera continues to be under control.

Surveillance activities are ongoing and weekly surveillance reports are consistently collected from 173 reporting sources in all the four lower south governorates.

WHO investigated suspected cases of haemorrhagic sepsis (Pasteurella multocida) in animals -mainly buffalo- that were reported by FAO in Basrha Governorate. The disease is limited to few animals. Although not contagious to humans, surveillance activities in animal health have been strengthened.

Seven truckloads of medicines and medical supplies were received in Basra Central warehouse from Kimadia Baghdad. The items received included the much needed X- ray films, developers, fixers and related materials; antibiotics, anti cancer drugs, intravenous fluids, ophthalmologic preparations, laboratory materials and various medical supplies.

CALENDAR OF FORTHCOMING ACTIVITIES

18 September: Meeting on Health Needs Assessment Process, Amman. With the participation of officials from the Ministry of Health, Coalition Provisional Authority, WHO, UNICEF, World Bank.

24 October: Conference on Reconstruction of Iraq, Madrid

21 November: End of the Oil for Food Programme