Over 500,000 children reached with lifesaving vaccines by Ministry of Health, supported by UNICEF & WHO

More than 3,800 health workers, community mobilizers and religious leaders were mobilized for this 2nd round of first-ever multiantigen campaign

08 June 2023

Baghdad, 8 June 2023 – Over 500,000 most vulnerable children, including almost 50,000 children who are under-immunized or missed out completely on their vaccines, were vaccinated in the second round of Iraq’s first-ever multi-antigen campaign led by the Ministry of Health (MoH) with support from UNICEF, WHO and partners.

In the 10-day-long campaign, a total of 1,303,587 doses of vaccines were used to vaccinate 523,584 children, including 332,023 against measles, one of the most-contagious diseases, by 3,834 health workers. Additionally, more than a million caregivers, including fathers, were reached with messages to raise awareness about the importance of vaccines and to build their trust and demand for vaccine.  The campaign was in-part financially supported by the UNICEF partnership with Alwaleed Philanthropies as well as by the Centers for Disease Control.   

“Vaccines are the world's safest and most effective strategy to protect children from life-threatening diseases,” said Sheema Sen Gupta, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. “UNICEF remains committed to supporting the MoH to ensure that every child in Iraq is reached with vaccines.”

As part of the campaign, WHO provided support for operational costs, enabling vaccinators to reach the targeted districts, including remote areas, and ensured efficient logistics for reaching the designated vaccination sites. The daily mobilization of thousands of vaccinators to these sites played a crucial role in the campaign's success.

"This campaign was a great success in ensuring that no child is left behind in Iraq,” said Dr Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative in Iraq. “I reaffirm WHO's commitment to collaborate with the MoH, UNICEF and all partners to further strengthen the immunization programme and contribute to the advancement towards Universal Health Coverage."

Globally, a total of 67 million children missed out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021, with vaccination coverage levels decreasing in 112 countries. Yet in Iraq and through its intensified integrated immunization outreach services have reached 90 per cent of children aged under 5 with the third dose of diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DTP) and the first dose of measles vaccines, the highest coverage in two decades. This multi-antigen campaign aimed at reaching those children who had still missed out on these and other vaccines, with the hope of minimizing the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases and advancing coverage to 95 per cent.

Immunization remains one of the most effective public health interventions, saving children from vaccine-preventable diseases, and enabling them to grow up healthy and reach their full potential. UNICEF and WHO are working tirelessly to make sure that every child, regardless of who they are and where they are, has access to the vaccines they need to not only survive but thrive.

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