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Iraq: Children

Volume 476: debated on Thursday 22 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment his Department has made of children's healthcare services in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. (205067)

Since 2003, DFID has continually monitored the state of Iraq's healthcare services including those for children. The Iraqi healthcare system already faced enormous challenges before the 2003 conflict. We recognise the serious need for improvements in child healthcare provision, including immunisation, potable water, food and nutrition and access for women and children to primary health care.

The Iraqi Government, supported by the international community, is seeking to address these issues. For example, a five-year health plan has been drafted with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a maternal child strategy and family health plans to move to a primary health care model with an emphasis on prevention and away from the present hospital based care system. The UN, led by UNICEF, is supporting the Iraqi Government's efforts to improve nutrition rates in Iraq through a variety of programmes including infant feeding campaigns, immunisation and the provision of medical supplies.

Since 2003 the UK has contributed a total of £70 million to the UN and World Bank Trust funds, which together are spending a total of $180 million in the health care sector. We have also contributed £5 million to the WHO. We also support humanitarian agencies including the International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and World Food Programme who also provide emergency relief to the 2.7 million internally displaced persons living in Iraq, including to children and other vulnerable groups (orphans, elderly, single headed female households). This year we have committed £17 million of funding for humanitarian assistance programmes, including £3 million to UNICEF's emergency programme to provide assistance to Iraqi children.