Iraq | News | Iraq produces COVID-19 laboratory supplies to more rapidly test cases

Iraq produces COVID-19 laboratory supplies to more rapidly test cases

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first-batch-locally-produced-vtm-iraq_First batch of locally produced VTM in Iraq to support national laboratories maintain COVID-19 testing. Photo: WHO/Iraq

Basra, Iraq, 5 April 2020 – In cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 Crisis Cell of Basrah University in southern Iraq has successfully produced urgently needed laboratory supplies to speed up testing of suspected cases.

The global demand on supplies and equipment to fight COVID-19 has created a worldwide shortage of supplies. In particular, stocks of virus transport medium (VTM) — a gel-like substance used to preserve nasal swab specimens while they are being transported to laboratories — have been low.

As of 1 April, the University manufacturing team produced more than 1620 VTM, in addition to 3200 nasal swabs. These were delivered to health directorates in Iraq’s Basra, Muthana, Karbala, and Wasit governorates.

This new production, along with the Reverse Transcriptase-PRC (RT-PCR) kits provided by WHO, has facilitated the testing of hundreds of suspected cases in southern Iraq.

“The latest bottleneck to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Iraq has been the shortage of supplies and equipment needed to collect and transport samples,” said Dr Adham Ismail, WHO Representative in Iraq. “For this, WHO and Basra University have coordinated efforts to produce the essential laboratory products needed to test suspected cases, and together, we set the overall goal for supplying the quantities needed countrywide," he added.

2.	Basrah University, in coordination with WHO, dispatches the first consignment of the locally produced VTM to the rest of Iraqi governorates in support of COVID 19 containment efforts. April 2020, WHO photoBasrah University, in coordination with WHO, dispatches the first consignment of the locally produced VTM to Iraqi governorates in support of COVID-19 containment efforts

The new local production of VTM and swabs is a collective effort by Basra University, WHO, and other faculties like Al Zahraa Medical College, Faculty of Pharmacy, College of Sciences, and College of Agriculture, all in Basrah governorate. “We hope this will solve the domestic shortage issue resulting from the global demand,” said Dr  Saad Shahin, President of Basra University.

The Basrah Crisis Cell has also announced 3 other COVID-19 response measures, including an online application for COVID-19 self-reporting. So far, the app has been used by 4500 applicants, of whom 130 qualified for further testing by the RT-PCR kits.

Disinfectants and sterilization material, including hand-rub gel, have also been produced locally with support from WHO and the Government of Iraq.

As of 4 April, Iraq reported 54 deaths, 820 confirmed cases, and 226 recoveries countrywide.

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Information and global updates on COVID-19

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For more information, please contact:

Ajyal Sultany
WHO Communications Officer
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+9647740892878

Baraa Shabaa
WHO Communications Officer
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+964 7800010244 

 

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Key health-related statistics

Total population (000s) 37 140
Total health expenditure on health (% of general government expenditure) 6.5
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) 50
Number of primary health care units and centres (per 10 000 population) 0.7
Total life expectancy at birth (years) 69.8

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

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