UNDP and WHO hand over first specialised TB hospital to Government of Iraq
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq and the World Health Organisation (WHO) handed over the first specialised Tuberculosis (TB) hospital to the Government of Iraq at a ceremony. The Hospital is located in the Sulaymaniyah Governorate, and will be supported by the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. The KRG Minister of Health, Dr. Tahir Hawrami, and officials from the national TB programme in Baghdad, were also present at the ceremony.
The project to renovate the hospital in Sulaymaniyah, which was completed in December 2011, is part of a larger TB project for Iraq, funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and jointly implemented by UNDP and WHO. The Government of Iraq, including the Kurdistan regional government, will provide the resources to equip and staff the hospital, and it is expected that the hospital will be fully operational in the next few months.
“I am very pleased to be in Sulaymaniyah today to hand over this hospital to the Government” said Peter Batchelor, UNDP Country Director in Iraq. “This hospital is part of a larger package of support that UNDP and WHO are providing to the Government to help address the TB issue in Iraq” he added.
The new hospital in Sulaymaniyah, which is the first of its kind in Iraq, has a capacity of 30 beds and will provide specialised treatment and medical services to Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB patients.
“The emergence of resistance to first-line anti-TB drugs, and particularly of MDR-TB, has become a major public health problem in Iraq in recent years.” said Dr. Syed Jaffer Hussain, WHO Representative in Iraq. “This hospital will therefore assure the rights to health, provide a crucial service and hope for the patients to heal” he added.
Iraq has a relatively high number of TB patients (estimated 64 cases per 100,000 people) which is much higher than other countries in the region. The percentage of successful treatment among identified TB cases under the direct observation treatment short course is 90% in 2011. Particular challenges however exist in providing quality treatment for MDR-TB patients.
Over the coming months, UNDP and WHO will continue working with the Ministry of Health in Baghdad and Kurdistan to provide technical assistance until the hospital is fully operational aiming that all the TB patients in Iraq, including the MDR-TB patients will receive access to quality treatment and care.