A mass vaccination campaign is planned this month targeting 22 million children across the Middle East following an outbreak of polio in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The campaign was part of a comprehensive outbreak response that was rolled out across the Middle East after 13 cases due to wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in the country were confirmed last month.
In a joint resolution, all Member States in the WHO region declared polio eradication to be an ‘emergency’.
WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are coordinating the vaccination campaign with all concerned parties to make sure that all children are vaccinated no matter where they are located. It was launched in seven countries and territories: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, southern Turkey and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Genetic sequencing indicates that the isolated viruses are most closely linked to viruses detected in environmental samples in Egypt in December 2012, which in turn had been linked to wild poliovirus circulating in Pakistan. Closely related wild poliovirus strains have also been detected in environmental samples in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip since February 2013.
Pakistan, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, are the three last remaining countries where polio is endemic.
The first priorities of the mass vaccination campaigns in the Syrian Arab Republic, where wild poliovirus has not been detected since 1999, are to resupply and reactivate the required health infrastructure, including redeploying health workers to deliver vaccine in the worst-affected areas, and moving vaccine across conflict lines where necessary and possible.
Dr RK Sood (MAE) Epidemiologist
RRT member for Polio, Master Trainer HIV AIDS,
District Programme Officer
Ex Surveillance Medical Officer NPSP (WHO- GoI)
Life member - Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine.
Life member - Indian Society for Malaria & other Communicable Diseases.