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Polio battle stepped up

Monday November 11th, 2013

A massive polio vaccination programme is to be launched in the Middle East amid concern of a resurgence of the virus in war-torn Syria, it has been announced.

Last week some experts claimed Europe was ill-prepared for a resurgence of the virus.

Now the World Health Organisation has announced plans to vaccinate some 20 million children in seven countries, including Syria.

And some 1.7 billion doses of vaccine are to be produced in case the disease spreads further, it was announced.

Public health officials had already detected signs of the virus in Israel, Palestine and Egypt before an outbreak of polio disease in Syria, it was revealed.

Some ten children have been paralysed by the infection, which is thought to have come from Pakistan.

WHO regional director Dr Ala Alwan welcomed cooperation between countries on the project.

He said: "The Middle East has shown exactly the coordinated leadership needed to combat a deadly virus: a consolidated and sustained assault on a vaccine-preventable disease and an extraordinary commitment to a common purpose.”

Peter Crowley, of the United Nations children's organisation UNICEF added: "The polio outbreak in Syria is not just a tragedy for children; it is an urgent alarm -- and a crucial opportunity to reach all under-immunised children wherever they are.

“This should serve as a stark reminder to countries and communities that polio anywhere is a threat to children everywhere.”

Tags: Asia | Child Health | Flu & Viruses | World Health

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