Investment in healthcare is urgently required to save the lives of mothers and newborn babies in Iraq
Decades of conflict and under-investment have placed a huge strain on Iraq’s healthcare system, and pregnant women and their babies are paying for it with their lives.
Although progress has been made to lower maternal mortality rates, there has been slow headway in reducing the mortality rates for children under five. Newborn babies are particularly vulnerable because of poor birth practices, inadequate referral mechanisms and inefficient neonatal care, particularly in remote areas.
Breastfeeding, neonatal resuscitation, kangaroo mother care for preterm babies, and the prevention and treatment of infections will help prevent these infant deaths.
With the support of UNICEF, the Ministry of Health has launched the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP), which was developed jointly with UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The ENAP is an evidence based strategy to invest in, and improve the quality of maternal and newborn care.
“Providing high quality care before and after birth not only saves lives, it is also an investment to ensure Iraqi children have the best start in life and meet their full potential,” said Peter Hawkins (pictured), UNICEF’s Representative in Iraq.
“WHO and other partners will work to support the Government of Iraq through the Ministry of Health to achieve equitable universal health coverage, including the provision of comprehensive services for every woman and newborn in Iraq in order to contribute to the substantial reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity,” said Musani Altaf, WHO Representative in Iraq
“Neonatal mortality contributes significantly to child mortality in Iraq. UNFPA is proud to have played a part in the formulation of the Newborn Action Plan and commits to support the Ministry of Health in its implementation,” said Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA’s Representative in Iraq.
The Iraq ENAP has been developed in alignment with the Global Every Newborn Action Plan. It is expected to serve as a roadmap that redefines and focuses national and sub national strategies and activities to reduce deaths and disability, ensuring no newborn is left behind.