Since 2019, the Ministry of Health in Iraq, with support from GHD|EMPHNET, has led a project to utilize Polio Eradication Program assets to strengthen routine immunization in high-risk areas, while also sustaining essential polio functions. The project is targeting high-risk provinces.
Capitalizing on this joint effort, the Ministry is focusing on addressing the risk of wild poliovirus importation and the emergence of the circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV) because of the decreased immunization coverage, mainly attributed to the COVID-19 emergency and engagement in its response. The focus is to improve AFP surveillance indicators to ensure rapid detection and response for WPV importation and the cVDPV.
A ToT training on AFP surveillance for AFP surveillance officers was conducted between October 24-26, 2021, in Baghdad, Iraq for from the national and provincial levels. The ToT built a team of master trainers on AFP surveillance who will later train surveillance AFP and vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) officers at provincial, district, and major hospitals in high-risk provinces: Dahuk, Missan, Anbar, Muthanna, Kirkuk, and Ninewa. These officers will be trained on the importance of early detection, reporting, and investigation of AFP cases as well as regular monitoring of the AFP surveillance indicators.
To further improve the quality of epidemiological investigations of high-risk AFP cases, the Ministry is implementing (1) a comprehensive epidemiological investigation for 50 AFP hot cases, clusters, and zero doses; and conducting (2) 50 limited scale coverage surveys to identify unvaccinated children around AFP cases. A response plan will be conducted according to the surveys' results.