Potential impact of conflict on health in Iraq

Briefing note: March 2003

Annex: The World Health Organization in Iraq

WHO's presence and activities in Iraq

In 1947, Iraq became a Member State of WHO, which today has a total of 192 Member States.

WHO implements its regular budget and the OFFP for which it has offices in Baghdad, Erbil, Suleimaniyeh and Dohuk. Staff in normal circumstances number 347, including 48 international staff in Baghdad and the northern governorates.

WHO is mainly implementing in the south and centre of Iraq its regular budget programme which amounts to more than US $2 million per biennium. In addition, it carries out observation activities mandated by Security Council Resolution (SCR) 986 to verify the equitable distribution of medical supplies and equipment by the government of Iraq.

In the three northern governorates (Erbil, Dohuk and Suleimaniyeh) WHO has been entrusted with the implementation of the major part of the health component of the Iraq programme funded under the OFFP. (Thirteen percent of revenues from oil-for-food resources are allocated for the north of Iraq for implementation by UN agencies.) The programme has moved from (procurement-oriented) emergency relief to rehabilitation of health services in each of the three northern governorates.

There are four major activities in the health sector in the north: water and sanitation; higher medical education; health repair including rehabilitation of infrastructure as well as public health projects; and procurement of medical equipment. OFFP funds allocated for WHO health programmes in the northern governorates amount to more than US$150 million for the last two years (this amount excludes funding for the procurement of medicines and medical supplies.)

WHO does not procure medicines, drugs, vaccines and medical supplies. Under the OFFP this role is carried out by the government of Iraq central procurement agencies (Kimadia). WHO, however, distributes the share allocated to the north (13.0% of these supplies) as and when they are received in Kimadia warehouses.

2) Neighbouring countries (Turkey, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic) are also Member States of WHO. They belong to the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, whose headquarters is in Cairo, except for Turkey which is a member of the WHO European Region, whose headquarters is in Copenhagen.