News / Health

Egypt Fights Back Against Syria Polio Outbreak

Egypt Fights Back Against Syria Polio Outbreaki
X
November 18, 2013 6:07 PM
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
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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid