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WHO accelerates preparedness plans to cover winterization which will impact health needs of the internally displaced population in Iraq

Erbil, 10 November 2014 - With the onset of winter and the inadvertent cold-related illnesses like Pneumonia, measles, and acute respiratory infections (ARIs), an estimated 1.8 million internally displaced Iraqis dread survival in the camps and informal shelters like schools,

unfinished buildings, public parks, and religious houses. Limited access to health services has increased the vulnerability of the displaced populations, particularly the most vulnerable such as children, elderly and people suffering from chronic diseases, including asthma and other upper respiratory infections. To fill these identified health gaps, WHO has appealed for US$23million to cover cost of essential health supplies and the recruitment of qualified health personnel.
“Access to preventive and curative health services is a key priority for WHO. Unless preventive measures are taken, the harsh winter weather will have a serious negative impact on the health of over 5 million vulnerable populations and will impact the response capacity of WHO to respond effectively to the increased demand for optimum health services.” Said Dr Jaffar Hussain, WHO representative and head of mission in Iraq. “Adding to it the fact that the majority of camps and shelters are below the required standards, which makes it even more challenging for WHO to ensure delivery of health services to displaced populations keeping in mind the fact that the health facilities are already over-stretched to the maximum” added Dr Jaffar.
In response to winter related conditions, WHO has finalized comprehensive preparedness plans in coordination with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Health of Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The winterization plans focus on protecting health of vulnerable populations by mitigating the impact through a series of promoting actions as:
(a)    strengthening early warning disease system and surveillance of acute respiratory infections (ARI); 
(b)    Training health care workers in the management of severe cases as pneumonia and other chronic illnesses;
(c)    Provision of mobile medical services to vulnerable groups and support to Departments of Health to expand the medical mobile teams (MMT) activities;
(d)    Provision of equipment, supplies, including lab reagents to clinics and to health facilities.
(e)    Stockpiling of antibiotics, nebulizers and other medicines and medical supplies used to manage respiratory tract diseases besides medical supplies to manage related adverse health conditions. 
(f)    Initiating new immunization rounds. As of October this year, the total of 28.2 million vaccines was administered to children under the age of five years. Measles response for IDPs started from the 1st day of the IDPs flow to KRI on June 4014; total number of children vaccinated so far was 127,702.
Considering the possibility of additional displacement which would further burden the already exhausted health system, the plan has moreover addressed major gaps including the overstretched health system and availability of medical services to displaced populations, the unpreparedness of many IDPs who arrived with little or no belongings and the responsibility to ensure that they stay healthy in and outside the camps through the winter, access of IDPs sheltered in camps or other informal settings to basic health care and prevention measures like clean water, hygiene, sanitation, etc.
“The impact of winter season on health of vulnerable populations will also depend on how well prepared are other sectors such as shelter, water and sanitation, and the availability of food and core relief items,” concluded Dr. Jaffar. WHO and all partners consider health of IDP populations as a priority and will enhance coordination of other clusters with local health authorities to strengthen the referral system, conduct community awareness and education campaigns for proper health behaviors, and support the disease surveillance system and outbreak of early warning system, as among other responses toping WHO winter agenda.


For further information, please contact:

-    Ms Pauline Ajello| Communications & Donors Relations| WHO,
-    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +964 7809 288 618
-    Ms Ajyal Sultany| Communication Officer| WHO,
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +964 (7809 269 506) Or (7510 101 469)

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  • Agency: WHO
Last modified on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 09:44