Syria turmoil stirs fears of polio uptick

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This Syrian vaccine effort is being endangered in the violence-torn nation.

The next time you hear or read a plea for financial support of Rotary’s anti-polio efforts, please don’t consider it just more of the same old fundraising rhetoric.

As recently as last year, public health authorities determined the dreaded disease that once ravaged every nation had been confined to just three countries — Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan — because of a vigorous decades-long immunization spearheaded  by Rotary International.

Since then, violence and terrorism have halted immunization efforts and polio has grown worse in those three countries as well as other parts of Africa terrorized by the Boko Harum terrorists,

And now, the ongoing turmoil in Syria has affected polio immunization efforts there, with dosage levels dropping from 80% of the population to only 40%. That, in turn, has led to an outbreak of more than 20 polio cases already this year in a nation that had been polio free since 2011.

Why? An interruption of the polio vaccine supply line, the growing number of refugees who tend to spread disease because they have compromised access to health care and are aimlessly migratory, and the inability to maintain programs because of widespread violence and assaults on volunteer and professional medical workers.

As we know, although polio is incurable it is preventable, but that requires a non-stop program of vaccination even in areas believed to be “polio free.” And, that requires financial support.

Food for thought.


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