WHO health briefing on Iraq

UN humanitarian briefing
29 April 2003

WHO sends tonnes of emergency supplies to Baghdad from Amman

To respond to critical shortages of medicines and other health supplies in Iraqi hospitals and communities, WHO is sending three large trucks, loaded with tonnes of supplies, from Amman to Baghdad today. These include 40 emergency health kits including 10 donated by the government of Norway. Each kits serves 10 000 people for three months, so this delivery will help serve the urgent health needs of 400 000 Iraqi people until the end of July. These kits include basic drugs, surgical items, and auto destruct syringes.

To boost Iraq’s laboratory system, which has been badly affected by looting and other damage, the delivery also includes laboratory reagents, and diagnostic testing kits for HIV and Hepatitis C. Finally, this load of supplies will also help replenish vaccine stocks against rabies, scorpion and snake bites, as well as meningitis. Generally, vaccines were spoiled in many centres when fridges could no longer work as a result of power cuts and shortages. There will also be further delivery of insulin, to boost the stocks WHO had urgently delivered by taxi earlier this week. This will serve hundreds of diabetics.

WHO provides these supplies as part of its ongoing work to ensure hospitals and health centres are able to re-start their activities. This includes providing essential medicines and other drugs, as well as fuel for generators. To this end, the WHO Erbil sub-office provided 105,000 litres of locally procured fuel for generators in Erbil hospitals.

Mosul – patients suffering acute respiratory diseases, diarrhea, injuries and malaria

A WHO team undertook an assessment of patients at Mosul health centres from the 11-17 of April. They found the following:

  • The leading cause for illness was acute respiratory infections, (8063 cases), 40% of these cases were among children under five years old
  • Second comes people suffering from diarrhea (6401 cases) with 60% of these being children under five years old
  • There were also 411 cases of injuries, mainly among young adults
  • Malaria was also prevalent, with 217 cases – 90% of those were children under five

This underscores the need for more support to kick start the Iraqi health system. Acute respiratory infections and diarrhea are the leading childhood killers in Iraq. A health system with adequate resources, including enough funds for basic running of the hospitals (fuel for generators and daily allowances for staff), is crucial to treat people, and minimise the amount of illness and deaths.


For further information, please contact WHO spokespersons Fadela Chaib in Amman(00 4179 475 5556) or Christine McNab in Geneva (00 41 79 254 6815)

The following WHO specialists are available to respond to media questions: Dr Ghulam 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)

Share