WHO has published Syrian Arab Republic: put polio risk above all other interests. Excerpt:
The first suspected polio cases in Syria were flagged on 17 October 2013. On 29 October the Government of Syria announced that wild poliovirus had been isolated from 10 paralyzed children in Deir Ez Zour, one of the most fiercely contested areas of the country. Even before this laboratory confirmation, health authorities across the region had begun the planning and implementation of a comprehensive outbreak response. That campaign started on 24 October.
As of late November, 17 children had been paralyzed by polio in three separate Governorates of the Syrian Arab Republic, which had previously not recorded polio for over a decade.
The push to immunize all children against polio has been hampered by the ongoing internal conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic.
“We are appealing to all parties to cooperate with temporary pauses in hostilities over the coming 6 months to allow vaccination campaigns to take place and for all children to be reached,” says Dr Ala Alwan, Regional Director, WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.
“All children have the right to be protected from the crippling poliovirus, and the provision of healthcare must remain neutral, regardless of the context.”
Campaigns targeting 22 million children under 5 years
Recognizing the high risk of spread to countries in the region and beyond, in October/November 7 countries and territories held mass polio vaccination campaigns targeting 22 million children under the age of 5 years.
In a joint resolution in early November, all countries of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region declared the escalating polio situation to be an emergency for the entire Region, calling for support in negotiating and establishing access to those children who are currently unreached with polio vaccination, in both the Middle East and in Pakistan, from where the outbreak virus had originated.
It is estimated that campaigns will need to continue for the next 6 to 8 months to ensure all children in Syria and surrounding countries are vaccinated.