New Immunization Campaign Targets 5.8m Children

“Population movement and shortfalls in routine immunization pose significant challenges for the polio eradication programme,” Dr Hussain said. “However, with the committed leadership of the Ministry of Health, support from donors, and through strong collaboration amongst our partners, we have been able to consistently reach over 90% of all children for the last nine campaigns since April 2014,” he said.

Dr Hussain cautioned that certain high-risk governorates such as Baghdad, Karbala, Muthana and Babylon do not have uniformly high vaccination rates at the district level and thus require particular attention during the campaign.

WHO, UNICEF and nongovernmental health partners have provided a range of support functions to the Federal and Kurdistan Region Ministries of Health to combat polio within Iraq’s borders. While WHO provides technical assistance and training in communicable disease surveillance, case detection, and stool sampling and testing for acute flaccid paralysis – a major indicator for polio, UNICEF has been instrumental in the procurement of OPV and cold-chain equipment, and in helping to raise community awareness around the debilitating disease.

“The absence of wild poliovirus in Iraq for over a year, despite the complex humanitarian crisis, is testament to the efforts put into the emergency response from the respective Ministries of Health. UNICEF, along with WHO, remains committed to providing strong technical support and welcomes the visit of Rotary for this campaign, as one of the spearheading partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,” remarked Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF Iraq Representative.

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