Via The New York Times, a January 9 report: Polio Vaccination Effort in Syria Appears to Have Some Effect. Excerpt:
The first polio outbreak in Syria in 14 years, which caused alarm when detected last September in the war-ravaged country, appears to have been contained halfway through an emergency vaccination effort for millions of children in the Middle East, two top World Health Organization officials said Thursday.
In phone interviews, the officials cautioned that polio had not been eradicated in Syria, and that the disease could reassert itself this spring, when warmer weather raises the risk of contagion. They also said their assessment was based partly on incomplete information, given the problems in reaching rebel-held areas.
But Syria’s confirmed cases — 17 — have remained static for many weeks, an indication that the vaccinations, which began in October and are to continue through March, are having some effect. That is a conspicuous, albeit modest, success in Syria’s humanitarian crisis.
“The vaccination is probably reaching more kids than any other humanitarian intervention has been reaching,” Dr. Bruce Aylward, the W.H.O.’s assistant director general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration, said in a phone interview from Geneva, the organization’s headquarters. “The reality is this is getting to more kids.”
Despite the collapse of Syria’s once-vaunted public health system and frustration by international aid groups over the lack of access to parts of the country, Dr. Aylward said that with regard to polio, a crippling scourge that mainly attacks young children, “everybody wants it stopped — the government, the opposition.”