Iraq: COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa region: an urgent call for reliable, disaggregated and openly shared data

Middle East USA World

Sarah Wehbe, Sasha A. Fahme, Anthony Rizk, Ghina R. Mumtaz, Jocelyn DeJong, Abla M. Sibai

Summary box

  • In contrast to other regions, most Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region do not publicly report comprehensive and disaggregated epidemiological data on COVID-19.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies long-standing underinvestment and undervaluation of routine sources of data, a paucity of available disaggregated data and challenges to data sharing across several countries of the MENA region, notably those that are long stricken by conflicts and displacement.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic should serve as an impetus for more comprehensive, robust, disaggregated and publicly available evidence, and this can be addressed through prioritised governmental expenditure and use of available digital technologies.

  • Comprehensive and reliable data are essential in understanding the implications of the health crises, generating meaningful epidemiological research and developing prompt and contextualised responses.