A. Public health risks, priorities, needs and gaps
As we enter the last quarter of a difficult year due to the pandemic and the reduction of humanitarian funding, the crisis in Iraq, which appears to be latent and/or sometimes resorbing, deserves more attention/support, mainly in the Health Sector. Since the outset of the recent conflict in 2015, donors have supported partner agencies to manage life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable.
Today funds are increasingly scarce, leading to many partners phasing out progressively. While across the country, containment measures and restrictions have affected operations and economy, continuation of this situation may lead to significant social and economic challenges, mainly in displacement camps.
On the economic front, already last year, the United Nations declared that Iraq is expected to experience a 9.7% drop in its GDP, mainly due to the sharp fall in oil prices since the start of the pandemic, which has laid to massive layoffs and reduced oil revenues by almost half. (Source: UN envoy: Pandemic increased poverty in Iraq by over 10% (apnews.com)) This situation today has worsened with some tentative improvements in some areas, but a significant loss of jobs lowers the average income.
Meanwhile, camp closures have led thousands of people to uncertain destinations as many are unable to return to their areas of origin due to several reasons, including shortage of basic service-availability in the public sector, lack of financial capacity to access services in the private sector, etc. Since the cut in NGO Health Sector funds will lead to a drop-in service, health services transition strategy is proving complicated where government is not able to fully step-in in PHCCs. (Source: Between a pandemic and a hard place: Durable solutions elusive for Iraq’s most vulnerable | Round four: July 2021 - Iraq | ReliefWeb).