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Homs, Syria – January 2015 – Polio cases were confirmed in Syria in October 2013 for the first time since 1999. Since the outbreak 36 cases have been reported in the country, mostly among unvaccinated children under 2-years-old. 35 of the cases were in 2013, and only one in 2014.

Following the confirmation of polio outbreak in Syria in October 2013, a joint UNICEF, WHO and Ministry of Health (MoH) coordinated effort was launched. This included 10 national polio immunization campaigns reaching 2.9 million children under 5. As a result, the wild polio virus transmission has been interrupted with only one case reported in January 2014 through the polio surveillance system that was further strengthened as part of the polio response.

With the support of many donors, UNICEF has provided 37.5 million doses of oral polio vaccine to help contain the outbreak in Syria. The European Commission for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) supported the procurement of 7.5 million doses of vaccines. The funding from ECHO also enabled UNICEF to provide 317 solar refrigerators to sustain the cold chain for polio and other routine vaccines.

ECHO’s funds have supported nationwide media campaigns, targeting parents and caregivers to raise awareness on the need to vaccinate all children under five.

According to monitoring efforts, parents were seeking to vaccinate their little ones. Fathers and mothers brought their under five children to health centers and community level vaccination spots.

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