Government launches vaccination campaign

Iraq reports over 27,000 cases of measles

BAGHDAD — Iraq is grappling with a public health crisis as the country’s Ministry of Health reports more than 27,000 cases of measles, primarily among individuals who have not been vaccinated. According to the ministry, 96 percent of those infected had not received the measles vaccine, underscoring a critical gap in vaccination coverage.

To date, the disease has claimed the lives of 43 Iraqis, primarily among individuals with chronic health conditions who had not been vaccinated.

In response to the crisis, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), initiated a vaccination campaign on March 14, targeting young children in nurseries and primary schools. The campaign aims to vaccinate approximately 7 million students.

Dr. Riyaz Abdul Amir, Director-General of Health in Iraq, stressed the importance of parental support for the initiative.
For its part, the Kurdistan Regional Government launched its own vaccination campaign on April 16, with the goal of vaccinating about 900,000 children over a span of 10 days. This endeavor involves more than 3,280 healthcare workers organized into 1,094 teams.

The WHO has endorsed the safety and efficacy of the vaccines used in these campaigns. Georges Alfred Ki-Zerbo, head of the WHO mission in Iraq, affirmed to the Iraqi News Agency that the vaccines are WHO-approved and play a crucial role in preventing severe health complications from measles, including hearing loss. This vaccination initiative is part of a broader strategy to bolster public health security in Iraq.

Previous efforts include a comprehensive measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination campaign in 2019, which targeted children aged 9 to 59 months across eight provinces. The campaign aimed to mitigate the risk of severe and fatal outbreaks and align with global strategies aimed at eradicating measles and rubella.