Up to 7.5 million children to receive life-saving measles vaccination, a government-led initiative supported by UNICEF and WHO

A measles, mumps and rubella national campaign where more than 30,000 health workers will be mobilized to end disease transmission and save lives

14 April 2024

Baghdad, 14 April 2024 – Today, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO kicks off a massive nationwide vaccination campaign to protect children from contagious measles, mumps, and rubella diseases. Over 7.5 million children aged 6 - 12 years in primary schools in addition to kindergartens are expected to be reached during this campaign that ends on 25 April 2024.

“This campaign comes at a critical time to end the transmission of measles, one of the most contagious diseases,” said Dr. Saleh Al-Hasnawi, Minister of Health.  “Through our collaborative efforts with UNICEF and WHO, the Ministry of Health can safely and effectively stop the circulation of the measles virus and save the lives of children from this deadly disease by vaccinating children everywhere.”

The Minister of Health for the Kurdistan Region Government, Dr. Saman Barzangy, added: “Measles is a communicable viral disease that the Regional Government is committed to prevent and protect the health of its citizens and future generations by adopting a region-wide mass measles vaccination drive for children in schools and kindergartens.”

This massive campaign is fully resourced by the Government with technical support from UNICEF and WHO.  More than 30,000 frontline workers will deliver the vaccines, conduct community awareness, and monitor the campaign.

“This nationwide immunization campaign reflects the strong commitment of the Ministry of Health to saving children’s lives,” said Ms. Sandra Lattouf, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.  “It will strengthen the health system to provide essential health services to every child in Iraq and will accelerate progress towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goal 3.2.”

“WHO remains committed to collaborating with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and all partners to further advance the national immunization programme towards universal health coverage,” said Dr. George Alfred Ki-Zerbo, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq. “Together, we are steadfast in our commitment to halting the disease transmission, saving lives, and securing a healthier and safer future for all.”

Ten days ahead of the World Immunization Week, marking 50 years of the essential programme on immunization, this campaign underscores the power of vaccines in saving children’s lives.

Over the past five decades, vaccines have saved up to 3 million lives every year, adding to a total of more than 130 million people.  Vaccines alone have increased infant survival by 30 percent.  As one of the cheapest and most effective public health interventions, it is critical to continue to prioritize vaccines to reach every child. 

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Zaid Fahmi
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