WHO health briefing on Iraq
31 March 2003 - Reports from the Iraqi capital say that hospitals in Baghdad and across southern Iraq are treating a growing number of injuries. However, the hospitals in Baghdad are relatively well supplied and continue to function.
The International Committee of the Red Cross reports that its water engineers have succeeded in maintaining the supply of water to some 60% of the population in Basra. WHO continues to have serious concerns about the remaining 40% which lacks access to safe water.
In the three Northern Governorates, WHO continues to work actively in support of local health providers and to investigate reports of disease outbreaks. In Dohuk Governorate, there is evidence of a sharp rise in the incidence of acute respiratory infection (an increase of some 93% reported by three health centres in the Deralok sub-district). An investigation into two reported cases of measles is ongoing. This may be linked to an increase in the local population (up by more than 63%) over the same period, as people leave towns and cities and move to smaller towns and villages. WHO has also been assisting health facilities in the Northern Governorates with the purchase of fuel, fuel tanks and other supplies, as well as in data collection and analysis
Over the weekend, 5 cholera kits and 2 trauma kits arrived in Amman from the World Health Organization warehouse in Brindisi, Italy. They will be shipped to Iraq as soon as the situation allows. The cholera kits include medication and perfusions to treat 500 people suffering from severe diarrhea. The trauma kits include medication and narcotic drugs that can be used for emergency operations and can meet the needs of 400 people.
For further information, please contact WHO spokespersons Fadela Chaib in Amman (00 4179 475 5556) or Iain Simpson in Geneva (00 4179 475 5534)
The following WHO specialists are available to respond to media questions:
Dr G Popal, Head of the WHO country office in Iraq (+962 795 7092);
Dr Mohamed Jama, Deputy Regional Director, WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, Cairo (+202 276 5026 );
Dr Jim Tulloch, WHO Regional Health Coordinator, (+4179 509 0640);
Dr David Nabarro, WHO Executive Director, Geneva (+41 22 791 2363, +41 79 217 3446)