The World Health Organization (WHO) handed over more than 20 tons of urgently needed medical technologies to the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
The 117-pallet consignment contains a variety of emergency medical devices, mechanical and intensive care unit beds, personal protection equipment (PPEs), and in-kind medical furniture that will contribute to boosting the quality of medical care services and enhancing the local health authority's preparedness to encounter a potential transmission of the Omicron variant in what is considered as the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq.
"I am happy at the level of collaboration between the Ministry of Health in Kurdistan Region of Iraq and WHO and would like to thank all the hard efforts behind this continued support," said Dr. Saman Barzangy, Minister of Health in KR-I. "This shipment of emergency medical supplies will surely make a difference in the quality and quantity of health care services delivered in our health institutions. Hundreds of thousands of people will now ensure better access to essential and emergency health care services including COVID-19 treatment," H.E. Dr. Barzangy added.
After the significant decrease in COVID-19 infections in the last months of 2021, helped by the rise in numbers of vaccinated people across Iraq, the infection figures started to surge again recently alarming of a new wave of the pandemic in the country, which could relate to the detection of the Omicron variant in the northern city of Duhok in KR-I and the capital Baghdad on 6 January this year.
"This consignment complements the previous emergency and lifesaving support presented to enforce the local health authorities' response to the new surge in Omicron variant cases," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq.
"We are concerned about the recent drive in case numbers which we see as a call for a collective action to promote the local prevention and vaccination efforts. WHO and the Ministry of Health on both the Central and Kurdistan Regional levels share the same goal of working to protect the Iraqis and save lives through accessible, sustainable, and affordable quality health care services across the country," Dr. Zouiten added.
It is worth mentioning that in 2021, WHO Iraq supported the Ministry of Health in KR-I with medical equipment and pharmaceuticals worth of over US$2.5 million. The support assisted in augmenting the provision of essential and emergency health care services in the KR-I governorates and productively contributed to addressing the dire health needs of the region's community which continues to host nearly a quarter of a million Syrian refugees and over 1 million internally displaced Iraqis.
The World Health Organization in Iraq would like to express its gratitude for the generous contribution from the People and Government of Germany, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the People and Government of Kuwait for assisting in funding this medical and lab support.