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icddr,b Assists WHO to Scale Up Epidemic Readiness for Syrian Refugees in Iraq (ICDDR,B, August 1 2013)

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  • icddr,b Assists WHO to Scale Up Epidemic Readiness for Syrian Refugees in Iraq (ICDDR,B, August 1 2013)

    [Source: International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, full page: (LINK). Edited.]

    icddr,b Assists WHO to Scale Up Epidemic Readiness for Syrian Refugees in Iraq

    01 August 2013

    A team of experts from icddr,b arrived in Iraq on Sunday 28 July to assist the World Health Organization (WHO) undertake a cholera risk assessment amongst Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq.

    The current humanitarian crisis in Syria poses a grave risk of epidemics among the Syrian refugees spread out across the countries sharing its borders. Clinicians Drs. Md. Azharul Islam Khan and Ramendra Nath Mazumder and microbiologist Dr. Md. Sirajul Islam are members of a larger team formed by WHO?s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) in response to the invitation by the Ministry of Health of the Kurdistan Regional Government to WHO to assist with the risk assessment.

    The icddr,b team is assisting WHO/GOARN and the Department of Health officials in Duhok and Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with improving public health preparedness, strengthening surveillance and enhancing field investigation and rapid control capacity on the ground. The underlying objective of this particular mission is to scale up readiness of the regional government with epidemic detection, prevention and control of any potential epidemic that may occur among the Syrian refugee populations, and may spill over into the local population.

    The Syrian refugee crisis ? a public health nightmare

    icddr,b is playing a significant role in helping WHO/GOARN contain any potential health crisis amongst the Syrian refugees by providing technical expertise to ensure that the humanitarian and public health conditions in northern Iraq doesn?t worsen.

    Since the armed conflict began in Syria in 2011 between government and rebel forces, thousands of refugees have flocked across the border to Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, approximately 160, 000 Syrians have sought refuge in Iraq, with the majority concentrating inside KRG - in Duhok (99,000 refugees), followed by Erbil (40,000), while the remaining are spread across other camps in the region. Almost all the camps are overcrowded with families, many with traumatised young children, and injured or sick family members. Local health and utility services are struggling to cope with water and sanitation conditions worsening as influx of Syrians continue across the Syrian border.

    An assessment commissioned by WHO identified potential epidemic risk of a number of diseases such as cholera, shigella dysenteriae, typhoid fever, acute viral hepatitis, as well as measles among the Syrian refugees in northern Iraq. Consequently, WHO has drawn up a joint plan with the local health authorities of northern Iraq to implement the summer outbreak containment plan.

    According to WHO, as the health situation of the Syrian refugees in Iraq continues to deteriorate and with thousands of Syrians crossing the borders each day, there is a potential risk that diseases that are prevalent inside Syria can be transmitted or introduced into Iraq and other neighbouring countries. As a founder member of WHO/GOARN icddr,b remains committed to prevent public health crisis no matter where it may occur in the world.

    For further details please contact Nasmeen Ahmed, Senior Manager Communications