A new opportunity to grow healthy for vulnerable children
UNICEF-supported mobile health teams distribute vaccines to vulnerable children in remote areas in Iraq
Duhok, 5 October 2022.- In the late fall of 2022, in a remote area of Dohuk Governorate, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, some tents outside Domiz Camp host a pocket of very vulnerable population, without access to basic services such as primary health care or education.
Yasser, 37, and his wife Samia live in one of these tents with their three children - Rana, 5 months old, Rasoul, 13 years old, and Faryal, 14. Eight years ago, they had to leave their hometown, Qamishli in Syria, due to the recent conflict, looking for a safe place.
"Our life here is difficult, I don't have a job, I don't have the ability to take my children to health centers to receive the vaccine."
Thanks to UNICEF-supported mobile health teams funded by international donors, children in isolated areas like Rana, who have never received a vaccine yet, have an opportunity to grow healthy. “Every day we meet many children like Rana's case. Her families are unaware of the importance of the vaccine and due to the tough economic situation, because of their worries, they can't take good care of their children” says Ibtisam, one of the mobile health team workers.
Rana receives, among others, her vaccines for polio and tuberculosis, from the mobile team for the first time in her life and her new vaccination card that will remain with her until the school stage, and is now on track to get her measles vaccine on due time in a few months. “I am happy today. At first, I was afraid of vaccines, but today, after speaking to the mobile health workers, they convinced me of their importance for my daughter’s health and growth. Now that my daughter is completely protected, I feel that hope has returned to my life," says Samia, Rana's mother.
Only during the first half of 2022, UNICEF has supported the delivery of more than 1,593,733 doses to under five children in Iraq. UNICEF-supported services have also served to monitor and support growth monitoring and nutritional assessment of children under five and provides nutritional supplementation and therapeutic feeding to those in need.
In Duhok Governorate, the 3iS (Intensifying Integrated Immunization) campaign implemented by these mobile health teams has helped to increase the coverage rate of the oral polio vaccine (OPV3) by 27%, and Measles by 29% between February and September 2022. The 3iS was also an amazingly effective and efficient approach to reach more zero-dose children and helped to improve the equity and coverage of immunization services in the country.
In these and other areas, there are many children like Rana who urgently need assistance to receive vaccinations and the most basic of their basic rights. UNICEF and its partners, and thanks to international donors, in this case through UNICEF USA, are working to ensure that all children are reached and that they receive their routine vaccination, regardless of their background and situation.