Response To Syrian Polio Outbreak Faces Challenges But Is Progressing

The Lancet: Polio in Syria
Bruce Aylward, WHO’s assistant director-general for polio and emergencies, and Ala Alwan, director of WHO’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean

“…Fully implementing [a response plan to the polio outbreak in Syria] … has required overcoming immense hurdles to reach every child amid the wreckage of Syria’s public infrastructure and health system, the active conflict and insecurity, the dearth of trust, and one of the largest refugee crises since World War 2. These challenges have been compounded by erroneous allegations that — rather than doing everything possible to protect all Syrian children and the huge international investment in global polio eradication — U.N. agencies, and WHO in particular, had ‘blocked a vaccination campaign,’ were ‘obstructing the testing of polio samples,’ and by extension disregarding fundamental humanitarian principles. … Halfway through the Syrian polio outbreak response, many critical program indicators are improving, particularly in terms of access to vaccine, coverage, and surveillance performance…” (1/31).