WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF reiterate their commitment to Universal Health Coverage for every person, anywhere, anytime in Iraq
Today, as the world commemorates World Health Day with the theme, Universal Health Coverage (UHC), WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF recommit to supporting the Government of Iraq ensure that every person in Iraq has access to quality health care services, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of achieving universal health coverage by 2030.
Iraq has made considerable progress of striving to ensure access to quality and affordable health care services for its citizens over the past 25 years. The country has seen great improvement in life expectancy from 68.1 to 70.3 years; neo-natal mortality have gone down from 27 to 17% per 1000 live birth, while under five mortality has reduced from 54 to 30%. However, more needs to be done in order to build on these achievements and ensure equitable access to essential health services, irrespective of socio-economic status or geographic location.
Accessing UHC means providing access to essential quality care and protection. This entails integration of good stewardship, adequate public financing, qualified and motivated health workforce, access to quality medicines and health products, functional health information systems and people-centered service delivery systems. WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF are working closely with the authorities in Iraq at the national and subnational levels to strengthen health systems for better service delivery.
WHO continues to support the Iraqi Ministry of Health in prepositioning mobile clinics in areas with limited or no access to health care services, procuring medicines and other medical supplies, as well as developing strategies, guidelines and policies in favor of universal health care. In addition, the organization is working to build the capacity of health workers through trainings and is supporting the rehabilitation of damaged and destroyed health facilities.
Women and girls in particular are still unable to realize their sexual and reproductive health and rights and suffer from gender-based violence. Protracted displacement places an extra burden, making them unable to access reproductive health services in a timely manner, leading to life-threatening risks during pregnancy and delivery. UNFPA continues to prioritize maternal health, childbirth and newborn care services through the support of 76 facilities to mitigate the risks of maternal deaths and ensure no pregnancy is unattended by birth attendants in Iraq.
UNICEF has focused much of its healthcare work on immunization, newborn care, and nutrition across Iraq, including among vulnerable communities such as the internally displaced and hard to reach areas. Although 90% of under-fives received polio and measles vaccinations last year, only half of under ones got all the vaccinations required to ensure a healthy childhood. Without adequate immunization, Iraqi children have significantly higher risks of developing debilitating diseases and lifelong disabilities.
On this World Health Day, the UN reiterates its commitment to work with the Government to bring the country one-step closer to an Iraq where everyone has rights, choices, and access to quality health services. Together, we can contribute to ensuring that the people of Iraq are among the global one billion more people exercising their human right to have access to quality health services.