UN: Over 350,000 children vaccinated against polio in Syria’s hard to reach areas

New York (IINA) � In response to a recent outbreak of vaccine-derived polio in Syria, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and their partners have completed the first round of a vaccination campaign in two Syrian governorates.

The UN polio vaccination campaign in the war-torn country has provided protection to more than 355,000 children under age five in the Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa governorates, where violence has made access especially difficult.

This is the second polio outbreak to hit Syria since the start of the conflict in 2011. The continued violence has devastated its health infrastructure and severely disrupted routine immunization services, particularly in Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, UN News reported.

Prior to the crisis, Syria was polio-free, with an immunization rate over 80 percent. National vaccination coverage is now just over 40 percent.

As of 18 August 2017, 33 children under the age of five have been paralyzed, said WHO Representative in Syria Elizabeth Hoff.

To vaccinate every child in need, UNICEF ran an outreach campaign and provided the vaccines and essential cold chain equipment. WHO has trained more than 1,000 field volunteers, transported the vaccines to the conflict-affected area, and funded the implementation of the campaign.

Both agencies said they will continue engaging with local partners and health personnel in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor governorates to protect all children from polio. They also called on all parties to the conflict to allow vaccinators full access to children in need.

Source: International Islamic News Agency