Thanking Rotary International for their unflinching support to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) through its history, WHO and UNICEF country representatives have appealed for continued support to the polio emergency response in Iraq. To ensure prevention of new importation-associated polio outbreaks and to save children from vaccine preventable diseases, additional campaigns must be held over the coming year.
However, the Iraq Ministry of Health estimates a funding gap of US $45.5 million for campaigns planned in 2015 and 2016. Given the high political commitment of the Government to polio eradication and the Expanded Programme on Immunization, WHO and UNICEF have appealed to the wider international community to come forward and support efforts to ensure vaccine delivery to all children and women of Iraq to prevent significant mortality and morbidity.
The UNICEF Iraq Country Representative emphasized that funding shortages in Iraq are putting all children at risk. “The scope and scale of the crisis, and the unimaginable hardships that Iraqi children have suffered stretch our ability to respond. If the immediate and longer term funding gaps are not met, millions of children will not receive the life saving interventions, including polio and routine immunization, that they need.”
WHO and UNICEF continue to support both Ministries of Health in increasing vaccination coverage in Iraq. Through the GPEI, the organizations are currently supporting immunization campaigns in three countries in the region.
(Polio image via Shutterstock)