News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Polio Outbreak Response Under Way to Protect Children

Polio Outbreak Response Under Way to Protect Children in Five Highest-Risk Countries

Children in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria will be the first of nearly 10 million children across the Middle East to receive a dose of polio vaccine this month.

Mass vaccination campaigns were launched in the four countries today, to be followed by a similar campaign in Lebanon from 9 March.

“We have seen extraordinary progress made against polio in the last few decades but the ongoing crisis in Syria and its neighbouring countries threatens to derail this success and could prove a dangerous tipping point for the return of this deadly virus,” said Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF New Zealand.

“We need to get two drops of polio vaccine into the mouth of every child under the age of five, regardless of their previous immunization history, every time there is a campaign,” added Khouzama al-Rasheed, a medical worker at a health centre in Qudssaya, rural Damascus, Syria. “If we can do that, the virus won’t be able to find a single child to infect, and we can put a stop to this disease.”

The multi-country vaccination campaign forms part of a regional response to the re-importation of wild poliovirus of Pakistani origin into Syria. Seven countries across the Middle East are planning to vaccinate more than 22 million children multiple times over six months – the region’s largest-ever coordinated immunization plan.

“Polio doesn’t respect borders,” said Dr. Ala Alwan the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. “The detection of polio in Syria is not Syria’s problem alone, but one requiring a regional response. The safety of children across the Middle East relies on us being able to put a stop to polio in Syria.”

On 28 October, 2013, the Syrian Ministry of Health announced that polio had returned to the country for the first time in almost 15 years. The March vaccination round will be Syria’s fourth since polio was detected, and rounds in January and February reached all governorates.

“To vaccinate so many children in different countries is a huge undertaking,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Each country faces its own set of challenges in order to make the campaign effective – above all in Syria – but this is the only way we can ensure children across the region are properly protected against this terrible disease.”

Mr McKinlay added, “It is of paramount importance that any threat of polio is met with widespread vaccination campaigns as this is the only way we can ensure the Middle East region returns to its former polio free status.

Donations can be made at:


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news