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Mission Erbil, Iraq – July 2016

Terms of Reference

As a first implementation step of the WHO EMRO Action Plan to strengthen blood safety and availability in a protracted humanitarian emergency situation, a mission to Erbil, Iraq – 24 to 30 July 2016, was assigned to IQM Consulting (Prof. Dr. Cees Th. Smit Sibinga).


Many countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, including Iraq, still face major challenges in making sufficient supplies of safe blood and blood products available, accessible, affordable and sustainable, while also ensuring the quality and safety of these products in the face of known and emerging threats to public health including humanitarian emergencies and armed conflicts.

Iraq has taken the initiative to develop a nationally supported safe and sustainable blood supply system through the establishment of a National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) and Center (NBTC), based in Baghdad. There have been efforts by NBTC to reform the fragmented hospital based blood supply, and created seven Regional Blood Banks that are to be developed to accommodate sufficient economy of scale to supply the hospitals in their respective regions. These efforts also include conversion from family/replacement and hidden paid blood donations to an all voluntary non-remunerated and regular blood donor system mobilized from identified low risk groups in the community.

In order to provide technical support to the NBTS, Prof Smit Sibinga (IQM consultant) was in Erbil in June 2011 to:

  • Assess the situation of the blood supply and clinical use in Iraq
  • Conduct a consensus workshop to create awareness and ownership of the key issues (pillars) of the reform of the national blood transfusion program
  • Conduct technical revision of the blood transfusion SOPs and technical guidelines produced by MOH.

The report of the mission was shared with NBTS Iraq and WHO Iraq. The report identified weaknesses that need to be addressed and outlined a list of recommendations to improve blood transfusion services in Iraq. However, the implementation of the recommendations was not followed up by the Iraqi authorities..

In 2016, a brief situation analysis was conducted by Dr Alaa Makki (Supervisor at Erbil Blood Transfusion Center). The findings of this assessment were similar to the findings in 2011.

Objectives of the mission

  1. To review the current situation of blood transfusion services in Iraq (based on the reports prepared in 2011 and 2016) and follow up on the recommendations of previous missions.
  2. To develop an action plan to address the identified gaps including:
    1. Immediate actions – in view of meeting the increased demand for blood during the on-going humanitarian emergencies and armed conflict.
    2. Long term actions – to develop the blood transfusion services in Iraq.


  1. Action plan to address identified gaps
  2. Identify focal persons for each governorate to establish working relationships for the implementation of the Action Plan.