Major immunisation campaign under way now in Syria
AMMAN / GENEVA, 25 October 2013 – As Syria awaits confirmation of suspected polio cases in the east of the country, UNICEF has joined the World Health Organisation and other partners in mounting a large-scale immunisation effort aimed at protecting as many children as possible both in the country and across the region against polio, as well as other vaccine-preventable diseases.
Inside Syria, a campaign led by the Ministry of Health began on October 24 targeting 2.4 million children with vaccines against polio, measles, mumps and rubella.
Around 500,000 children in Syria have not been vaccinated against polio in the past two years due to insecurity and access constraints. Prior to the conflict, immunisation coverage in Syria was about 95 per cent.
The conflict in Syria has caused immense displacement, with millions of children on the move, either inside the country or across borders into neighbouring countries and beyond. As a result, routine immunisation systems so critical to preventing childhood diseases have been disrupted or broken down, and children are now at far higher risk of diseases such as polio and measles.
UNICEF is mobilising a huge supply operation to make sure that vaccines are in place across the region, and reaching out to partners across all sectors to help raise community awareness of the importance of vaccinating children.
Multiple, supplemental immunisation campaigns against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases will take place inside Syria and across the region through the end of the year.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org