UN health sector partners launch an appeal to meet the health needs of Iraqis displaced in neighbouring countries
Today, UN health sector partners, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) appealed for 84.8 million US dollars to assist an estimated 2.2 million Iraqis who have fled the ongoing violence and instability in Iraq to neighbouring countries. The funds are required to support host governments in meeting the health and nutrition needs of the displaced populations until the end of next year.
The appeal emphasizes the basic health needs of displaced Iraqis in neighbouring countries, in particular in countries including Syria and Jordan, which host an estimated 1.5 million and 750,000 Iraqis respectively. The large numbers of people who have arrived over the past year put an enormous strain on the already overstretched public services and pose major challenges to host governments, local and international organizations.
In Syria alone, hundreds of Iraqi amputees need prostheses and thousands of cancer patients and trauma victims need specialized treatment. Access to hospital care is limited. Gaps have arisen in the national health information and disease surveillance systems, which increase the risk of vaccine preventable diseases. The deteriorating purchasing power of Iraqis may also lead to rising malnutrition rates. The displaced Iraqi population also needs reproductive and child health services.
The health needs of more than two million displaced Iraqis should not be ignored. Many are survivors of violence and have serious medical conditions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi displaced children need to keep on track with their vaccination program. This requires an enormous coordinated effort with governments and UN agencies and NGOs and significant financial support from the international community.
The joint appeal aims to improve access to health care; address malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies and strengthen information and surveillance systems and coordination. It was developed as a result of the Common Action Framework concluded at the ministerial consultation convened by WHO in Damascus on 29-30 July.
Over the past year, the countries in the region have been very generous in keeping their borders open and have made a very substantial contribution to the health and nutrition needs of the displaced Iraqis. But the burden on their health systems has become overwhelming and requires immediate and urgent support from the international community.
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