UN, WHO launch polio vaccinations for Mideast children

December 9, 2013

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF have launched a polio vaccination campaign for 23 million children in the Middle East after 17 cases were discovered in Syria, they announced Monday.

The campaign will be largest-ever immunisation response in the region, WHO and the UN 's fund said in a joint statement.

WHO has said the vaccinations would take place in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Turkey.

Syrian refugees fleeing their country's conflict have taken shelter in surrounding states, particularly Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

The comes after the discovery of polio in Syria for the first time since 1999.

The statement said at least 17 children had been paralysed by polio, 15 of them in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, large swathes of which are under rebel control.

The other two cases were recorded in Aleppo in the north, and in Douma, near the capital Damascus.

"Inside Syria, the campaign aims to reach 2.2 million children, including those who live in contested areas and those who were missed in an earlier campaign," the statement said.

But the organisations noted that many children in Syria remain inaccessible to the vaccination campaign because of the ongoing conflict.

"All Syrian children should be protected from disease," said Ala Alwan, WHO's regional director.

"We appeal to all parties of the conflict in Syria to cooperate and facilitate pauses in hostilities over the coming six months to allow vaccination campaigns to reach all children."

Health groups consider there to be a high risk of spreading in the region.

The strain of the disease detected in Syria is related to a strain that originated in Pakistan and has also been detected in sewage samples in Egypt, Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel itself has launched an emergency innoculation campaign.

Explore further: UN confirms 10 polio cases in northeast Syria

Related Stories

UN confirms 10 polio cases in northeast Syria

October 29, 2013

The U.N.'s health agency said Tuesday it has confirmed 10 polio cases in northeast Syria, the first confirmed outbreak of the diseases in the country in 14 years, with a risk of spreading across the region.

UN launches polio vaccination campaign in Mideast

November 9, 2013

The United Nations says a massive campaign to vaccinate children in the Middle East against polio has begun after the first cases in 14 years were confirmed in northeastern Syria last week.

UN says two more polio cases found in Syria

November 26, 2013

The World Health Organization says it has discovered two additional cases of the highly contagious polio virus in Syria, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 17.

Recommended for you

Ebola virus mutations may help it evade drug treatment

September 11, 2015

Genetic mutations called "escape variants" in the deadly Ebola virus appear to block the ability of antibody-based treatments to ward off infection, according to a team of U.S. Army scientists and collaborators. Their findings, ...

Study finds viral protein that causes dengue shock

September 9, 2015

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have identified a key culprit responsible for the fluid loss and resulting shock that are the hallmark of severe - and potentially fatal - dengue virus infections.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.