The University of Karbala produces locally made hand sanitizer and disinfectant for health facilities, in first of its kind UNICEF-supported project
In the first of its kind project since the corona virus outbreak, graduate students in the pharmaceutical department of the University of Karbala have produced 14,500 locally made hand sanitizers and 10,000 large products to disinfect surfaces, with the support of UNICEF and its partner the Karbala Directorate of Health.
Over the course of the month of June, the bottles were distributed to primary healthcare centers in Karbala and Baghdad, both which have been hard hit by covid19.
"We have been distributing hand sanitizer and soap to some of the most vulnerable communities since the beginning of the outbreak. To now be able to support Iraqis as they themselves produce items they need to protect their communities from COVID-19 is something we are proud of and that lives up to our commitment to empower local communities who are driving positive change," said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq.
The sanitizer is produced according to the highest global standards and with locally sourced raw materials. The gel is then bottled into 250 milliliters containers that are labelled and include instructions on how to use. The production cost of one bottle amounts 2 US dollars, a third of the average selling price of one hand sanitizer bottle (6 dollars) on the market.
"I am happy with the quality of the materials that we are using. I hope that our work will benefit Iraqis across the country, and not only here in Karbala," explained Karrar Abd, one of the graduate students taking part in the production.
There are already plans to produce at least 10,000 more bottles that will be distributed in the two governorates, as well as in Basra and Najaf. The production process takes up to three weeks. Once ready, youth volunteers who are trained in hygiene promotion by UNICEF distribute the bottles to public health clinics and centers. To date, the hand sanitizer bottles, and disinfectant solution have been given to 34 main Primary health care centers in Karbala and Baghdad.
"I heard so many people say that COVID-19 does not exist, which is not true. Someone in my family came into contact with the disease and transmitted it on to others. I know that hand sanitizer is the best way to prevent us from spreading COVID-19 because it ensures that we have clean hands, and therefore I wanted to work on this project. It makes me feel I am giving something to my community," explained 22-year old Zainab Hussein, one of the volunteers from Karbala who participated in the distributing.
With access to hand sanitizer, patients and health workers alike can practice hand hygiene, thereby enabling health centers to continue providing communities with essential services such as immunization and maternal health despite COVID-19. The project was made possible with generous support of the Department of International Development (DFID UK).