News / Health

In Iraq, Mass Polio Vaccination Campaign Underway

FILE - Health workers are trying to vaccinate Iraqi youngsters against polio. Rose Mohammed, 4, receives a vaccine at a Baghdad kindergarten April 10, 2014.
FILE - Health workers are trying to vaccinate Iraqi youngsters against polio. Rose Mohammed, 4, receives a vaccine at a Baghdad kindergarten April 10, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

Iraq was free of polio for nearly 14 years – until March, when the crippling disease paralyzed two children and set alarm bells ringing.

Now, a massive immunization campaign is underway in the war-torn country. The effort – spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, with support from the World Health Organization and the United Nations' Children’s Fund – aims to reach more than 4 million children under age 5.

"Iraq has now become very vulnerable to a wider outbreak of this crippling and incurable disease," said WHO spokesman Paul Garwood, citing the country’s "relatively high number of unvaccinated children due to the insecurity and the difficulties in accessing families and children, especially in conflict zones."

U.N. health officials say hundreds of thousands of children are being displaced because of widespread violence. They say the children and their families often live in overcrowded, unsanitary facilities – conditions that put them at great risk of contracting infectious diseases. 

The United Nations estimates nearly 1.2 million people have become internally displaced since the beginning of the year. In the past few days alone, the U.N. reports almost 200,000 people – nearly half of them children – have been forced to flee their homes.

The number of displaced has increased dramatically since June, when the militant group calling itself the Islamic State accelerated its attacks against the government, seizing large swaths of territory in northern Iraq. 

Some 700,000 people have taken refuge in Iraq's Kurdistan region, including about 250,000 Iraqi children and 125,000 Syrian children. Dohuk governorate alone, which borders Turkey, now is home to about 400,000 displaced.

Militants impede vaccination campaign

Garwood says aid workers would like to immunize all Iraqi children against polio. But it’s unlikely they will be able to do so in areas controlled by militants.

Aid workers say they will not be able to immunize thousands of children from the minority Yazidi religious group, who are among 30,000 people stranded in the barren, blisteringly hot Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq. The Yazidis fled there after Islamic State militants threatened to kill them if they did not convert to Islam.  

It’s believed that polio spread to Iraq from conflict-ridden Syria, once a polio-free country that now has 36 children paralyzed by the disease.

Iraq is among seven countries in the region where WHO and UNICEF plan to conduct polio-immunization campaigns. The organizations aim to reach 25 million children.   

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid