UN Iraq Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Iraq, Dr. Adham Ismail, visited the Ministry of Health today, where they met with the Minister of Health al-Tamimi.
The visit followed up on Iraq’s ongoing efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in light of the recent spike in cases. The UN reaffirmed its continued support to Iraqi health institutions. The visit was followed by a press conference. Following are Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert’s remarks:
“We are addressing you today at a critical time with a simple yet urgent message: we must remain committed to fighting the spread of COVID-19 at every level, but most fundamentally through the individual action of each and every one of us.
We salute the hard work, immense bravery and sacrifice of healthcare workers who give their all, even their lives, to help defend us from the pandemic. Our sincere condolences go out to all those who have lost loved ones to the disease.
Local, regional and national health authorities, and indeed the friends and partners of Iraq, have been warning all along that complacency would be very costly. The seriousness of the situation cannot be overstated. However, fear and misinformation are just as dangerous. We must fight back with courage, sound information, practical advice and collective discipline.
Despite serious limitations in its healthcare capabilities, Iraq managed to withstand the first months after the outbreak of the virus that overwhelmed many countries across the world. Now, because of increased testing and surveillance, but also because of a lack of adherence to instructions, Iraq finds itself in the midst of a major health crisis.
As we still do not have a vaccine, prevention measures remain our best tool: physical distancing, proper hygiene, seeking treatment without fear or shame.
The experience of other countries shows us that it is possible to contain COVID-19 and gradually reopen economies; yet we have also seen that massive loss of life and livelihood can result when we do not heed the advice of the authorities. Governments cannot create miracles overnight, but all of us, working together for the common good, can and will defeat this disease.
With self-discipline, a willingness to remain informed by credible sources, and the concerted efforts of all, Iraq will overcome. As I have said before, we are all in this together, all nations, all peoples, each and every individual. We each have our part to play, and Iraqis can count on the continued support of the United Nations, with the World Health Organization in the lead.”