News / Health

New Round of Polio Vaccinations Largest Ever in Middle East

A health worker administers polio vaccination to a child in Raqqa, eastern Syria, Nov. 18, 2013.
A health worker administers polio vaccination to a child in Raqqa, eastern Syria, Nov. 18, 2013.
Public health workers are spreading out across the Middle East to deliver polio vaccine to more than 23 million children in the second round of the largest vaccination campaign ever held in the region. The effort follows an outbreak of the crippling disease in Syria that has claimed 17 victims so far.
 
Vaccinators working to contain the outbreak must reach every child under the age of five in the seven countries in the region, an already complex task made that much more difficult by the civil war raging in Syria.
 
The first round of vaccinations last month reached more than 2 million Syrian children, according to UNICEF spokeswoman Juliette Touma.
 
“Around 600,000 were in contested areas where it was hard to reach. But it’s obviously not enough. There are children that are trapped in sealed-off areas that we could not reach that we really need to reach, and we do hope to reach in the second round,” said Touma.
 
Some opposition groups reported that they have been unable to get vaccine because U.N. agencies that run the polio campaign must work with sovereign governments.
 
Touma said the campaign is negotiating with all parties to try to get access to as many children as possible.
 
“What we need to have is a commitment for us to access children wherever they are, regardless of their family’s political affiliation, because polio does not know borders, does not know checkpoints, does not need a visa,” said Touma.
 
The highly contagious virus spreads through contaminated food and water. Most of its victims are children.
 
Full protection requires multiple doses of vaccine; four more rounds of vaccination are planned after this one, which will last about a week.
 
Touma said the outbreak makes a bad situation worse.
 
“Syria has been polio-free since 1999. And then suddenly, on top of everything, as if we needed something else to increase the suffering of children, we have polio,” she said.
 
There have been 355 cases worldwide this year, up from last year’s total of 205. An outbreak in Somalia has claimed 183 of those victims this year and spread the disease to Kenya and Ethiopia, which had been polio-free.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More