News / Health

Egypt Fights Back Against Syria Polio Outbreak

Egypt Fights Back Against Syria Polio Outbreaki
X
November 18, 2013
Egypt this week joins other countries in the Middle East in ramping up vaccinations against polio. The move comes as an outbreak of the potentially fatal disease in Syria threatens to help the nearly-eradicated disease make a comeback. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo.

Egypt Fights Back Against Syria Polio Outbreak

TEXT SIZE - +
Elizabeth Arrott
— Egypt this week joins other countries in the Middle East in ramping up vaccinations against polio.  The move comes as an outbreak in Syria threatens a comeback of the nearly-eradicated disease.

As part of the endeavor, Egypt has begun a new round of vaccinations against polio, one of several national efforts in the Middle East after the crippling disease recently resurfaced in war-torn Syria. 
 
UNICEF representative Philippe Duamelle in Cairo notes the virus “needs no visa to cross borders.” 
 
“Polio is back in the region.  This is terrible news for everyone,” says Duamelle.
 
Across Cairo, anxious parents are bringing their children to health ministry clinics, as the Syria outbreak brought Egypt's immunization campaign new urgency.  Ahmed Fathi stood in line at a center in the south of the capital as soon as the campaign got underway.
 
Fathi said he, like many people, is very worried and that's why he brought his child the first day.  He wants to make sure nothing like that happens in Egypt.
 
  • Anxious parents lined up across the capital as Syria's polio outbreak brought Egypt's immunization campaign new urgency, Cairo, Nov. 17, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)
  • Nurses at a health center handed out candies to children after vaccinating them for polio, Cairo, Nov. 17, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)
  • An employee of the Egyptian Health Ministry at a recent polio vaccination campaign event wears an "End Polio Now" pin, Cairo, Nov. 17, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)
  • Egypt has begun a new round of vaccinations against polio, one of several national efforts in the Middle East after the crippling disease recently resurfaced in war-torn Syria, Cairo, Nov. 17, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)
  • Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, which shelter large numbers of Syrian refugees, have all launched mass vaccination campaigns, Cairo, Nov. 17, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)
  • Egypt has joined other countries in the Middle East in ramping up vaccinations against polio, Cairo, Nov. 17, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)
  • Rumors spread by some religious leaders and others that the vaccine is a plot by Western powers to harm or even sterilize Muslim children have hampered efforts, but even among conservative Muslims here in Egypt, such suspicions are dismissed, Cairo, Nov.
  • Egyptian Health Minister Maha el Rabat looks on as a child is immunized against polio in Cairo, Nov. 17, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)

Egypt has a robust immunization program, and was declared polio free in 2006.  But in Syria, nearly three years of war has disrupted vaccination efforts, and after 14 years of no reported cases of polio, the disease has made a comeback.
 
The Syrian government, along with world health groups, is working to establish safe corridors to let health workers access children in need of the multi-stage vaccination process.
 
Mass campaigns are also underway in Lebanon, which along with Egypt, Jordan and Turkey shelters large numbers of Syrian refugees.   UNICEF's Duamelle says all children in the region under the age of five need to get vaccinated.
 
But it is not just the Syrian outbreak that is the problem.  Last year in Egypt the same strain of virus causing illness in Syria was found in Cairo's sewers.
 
Egyptian Health Minister Maha el Rabat, who toured various Cairo clinics to drum up support, says the polio virus could have arrived in the country by any number of means.
 
“Because we have a dynamic action of people moving in and out of the country and we are having refugees as well and we are having our people going to other countries and coming back so the wild virus was detected," says el Rabat.
 
The strain originated in Pakistan, which is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic.  The other two are Afghanistan and Nigeria.
 
Rumors spread by some religious leaders and others in those countries that the vaccine is a plot by Western powers to harm, or even sterilize Muslim children have kept some parents from vaccinating their children.  UNICEF's Duamelle says these conspiracy theories are hugely damaging.
 
“It is absolutely not true.  Vaccination campaigns worldwide are organized to save children's lives,” says Duamelle.
 
But among even conservative Muslims here in Egypt, such suspicions are dismissed.
 
Hanna Ramadan, wearing the niqab, or full veil, while carrying her child to a hilltop clinic in eastern Cairo, showed faith in the efforts to stop the disease.  She says the health ministry is “very careful about such things.”
 
The campaign, led by public and private groups, including the World Health Organization and Rotary International, aims to deliver 13 million doses of vaccine in Egypt.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid