Millions of children in the Middle East will be vaccinated against polio this month after the disease resurfaced in Syria, the United Nations said on Sunday.
Mass vaccinations have already begun in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria, while a similar campaign in Lebanon will start on March 9, the UN Children’s Fund Unicef said in a statement.
The World Health Organisation’s regional director for the eastern Mediterranean, Ala Alwan, said “Polio does not respect borders.
The detection of polio in Syria is not Syria’s problem alone, but one requiring a regional response. The safety of children across the Middle East relies on us being able to put a stop to polio in Syria.”
Preliminary evidence suggests the virus in this outbreak came from Pakistan.
The Syrian Ministry of Health said in October that polio had returned to the country for the first time in almost 15 years.
Inside Syria, the campaign is targeting 1.6 million children with vaccines against polio, measles, mumps and rubella.
Polio samples found in sewage in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip
Seven countries are planning to vaccinate more than 22 million children multiple times over six months, in the region’s largest-ever coordinated immunisation plan, said Unicef.