The Iraq Ministry of Health (MoH) and GHD/EMPHNET are implementing a project titled “The Epidemiology of Invasive Meningococcal Disease: Multi-center, Hospital-based Surveillance of Meningococcal Meningitis in Iraq.” The purpose of this project is to increase the capacity of the Iraqi laboratory staff in relation to the Meningococcal surveillance system. The project targets eighteen hospitals in four provinces: twelve located in Baghdad and two in each province: Karkouk, Karbala, and Misan.
As part of the project’s activities, GHD/EMPHNET in collaboration and coordination with the Iraq MoH conducted follow up visits to the targeted hospitals between April 21 to 24, 2019 accompanied by Dr. Sabah Abd Al’ameh from the Iraq Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specifically, the visits encompassed four main activities: a visit to CDC Iraq, a visit the Central Public Health Laboratory, a meeting with Epi Info focal points, and field visits to the hospitals involved in the study in Baghdad and Karbala districts.
Discussions during this visit focused on the Meningococcal meningitis project progress and the challenges faced in conducting such a project in Iraq. Other topics formed part of these discussions, such as the focal points’ communication and follow up with the staff; data collection using the Epi Info software; as well as the transportation and storage of diagnostic test reagents and samples.
GHD/EMPHNET identified major challenges related to the hospitals’ infrastructure, human resources and equipment availability. As such, GHD/EMPHNET plans to cooperate with the Iraq MoH and CDC to mitigate these challenges and ensure the optimum level of preparedness to response to all health events.
GHD/EMPHNET will continue to support the project team through providing instant feedback to rectify the immediate problems in the system, contributing to the provision of required supplies to continue testing the samples, and monitoring the project activities closely.