Background Brief - Health
The Oil-for-Food Programme was established in April 1995 as a temporary
measure to ease the unintended consequences of United Nations sanctions on
Iraq's civilian population. The first Iraqi oil sold under the programme to pay
for humanitarian supplies, was exported in December 1996 and the first shipments
of food arrived in March 1997. As of 20 March 2003, the Oil-for-Food Programme
covered 24 sectors of need and had prevented the further degradation of public
services and infrastructure, making a significant difference in the humanitarian
Health care delivery services in Iraq improved significantly as a result of
Oil-for-Food funding for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases between
December 1996 and 20 March 2003. The country remained polio free for the
previous 36 months following National Immunization Days that provided door-to-door vaccinations and reached 95 per cent of the 3.6 million targetted children under five years of age.
In the central and southern governorates, major medical surgeries
increased by 40 per cent and laboratory investigations by 25 per cent between
1997 and early 2003. There was a reduction in the transmission of communicable diseases, such as cholera, malaria, measles, mumps, meningitis and tuberculosis.
The Oil-for-Food Programme also helped to improve health care delivery in several new or rehabilitated centres in the centre/south, including: the Saddam Centre for Neurological Sciences; the AIDS Research and Study Centre; the Acupuncture Therapy Centre; the Tuberculosis Control Institute and; the National Centre for Haematology Research.
In the three northern governorates, cholera was eradicated and the incidence of malaria
was reduced to 1991 levels. The incidence of measles declined to levels ranging from 4 - 8 per cent and like the rest of the country, the north
remained polio free for almost three years.
Between 2000 and 2001, deliveries of medicines and medical supplies to the northern governorates doubled. Among the supplies delivered were high-demand items including antibiotics, intravenous solutions and oral suspensions. As a result, the rationing of medicines such as antibiotics
was substantially reduced.
Iraq has been polio-free since 2000