ASIA/SYRIA - Thousands of children excluded from the vaccination campaign against polio which has resurfaced in the Country

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - About 765 000 children under 5 years of age live in areas of Syria where it is very difficult to reach because of the ongoing conflict and therefore were excluded from the recent vaccination campaign against polio or received an insufficient amount of doses. Polio has been considered virtually eradicated from the region and there have not been any recorded cases since 1999, this year 36 have been identified in Syria and 2 in neighboring Iraq. Both countries are victims of serious internal conflicts and part of their territories are out of the control of the Government and in the hands of armed movements. Given the high risk of spreading the serious disease, UNICEF and WHO have launched the largest vaccination campaign in the history of the Middle East, vaccinating 25 million children three to six times. In Syria, 2.9 million children have been vaccinated. The outbreak of polio in Syria has been attributed to reasons determined by the civil war, which began in 2011, mainly due to the interruption of the national campaigns of routine and damage to health infrastructures, with at least 60% of hospitals destroyed or damaged. In addition, among other key sources there is also the exodus of medical personnel and the ongoing forced displacement of the population in Syria, who live in deplorable hygienic conditions and many children are without any medical coverage. Before the conflict the vaccination rate in the country was 99% and now it is 52%. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 24/07/2014)