As Covid-19 cases soar in Iraq and hospitals report “severe” shortages of oxygen, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has secured 300 oxygen concentrators to be used in Iraqi hospitals.

The concentrators were airlifted from WHO’s warehouses in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and delivered to the Ministry of Health to be distributed according to the Ministry’s plan.

“The new donated oxygen concentrators will save more lives,” said WHO Iraq Representative Dr. Adham Ismail.

“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, WHO has been fighting the pandemic with every tool at its disposal to save lives and support countries with limited response capacity, including Iraq.”

On 24th June, a video circling on social media showed a state of panic, fear and chaos in one of the largest hospitals in the city of Thi-qar, southern Iraq, after reports of severe oxygen shortages that caused casualties among Covid-19 patients.

This was coupled by other reports from different governorates showing the lack of oxygen supplies in health care facilities.

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Source: World Health Organisation

All of these incidents and reports have prompted WHO to act urgently to support Iraq to meet the shortfall in oxygen supplies.

Since mid-May, Iraq has been recording increasingly higher numbers of new Covid-19 infections and deaths.

As of 2nd July (2020), Iraq has reported more than 53,700 confirmed cases and 2,160 people have died.

During the period from March to June (2020), WHO Iraq handed over $ 1.6m in the form of diagnostic kits, equipment and furniture, personal protective equipment, health kits and supplies to the Federal Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

WHO and health authorities proactively coordinated a comprehensive response to the pandemic as early as January (2020).

The Organisation, in collaboration with the Ministry, is currently engaged in a major awareness-raising campaign targeting people living in 10 heavily affected areas in Baghdad.

More than 250 community volunteers have been mobilised to deliver educational messages from 29th June to 28th July (2020).