WHO Doubles Number Needing Polio Vaccination In Middle East; Aid Groups Continue To Report Access, Supply Issues In Syria

“Escalating its emergency battle to stop the spread of a polio revival in Syria, the [WHO] has doubled the number of children it says should be urgently vaccinated to more than 20 million throughout the Middle East, the organization’s top official in charge of eradicating the highly contagious and crippling disease said Wednesday,” the New York Times reports. “The official, Dr. Bruce Aylward, also said the organization’s projection of a two-month vaccination campaign — envisaged just a few weeks ago for 10 million Middle East children — would now take six to eight months, require at least 50 million doses of vaccine for repeated treatments and might require the diversion of vaccine originally intended to be used elsewhere,” the newspaper writes (Gladstone, 11/6).

Discussing getting aid into the country, Iman Bahnasi, head of health for UNICEF Syria said, “[T]he real problem we’re facing is we don’t have access to all the high-risk areas,” according to BBC News, which notes, “[T]he government and the opposition accuse each other of blocking medical aid and food as a weapon of war which ends up hurting civilians most of all” (Doucet, 11/5). However, Khaled Erksoussi, the head of operations for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, told Al Jazeera, “It’s not difficult to get the aid in the country. The main challenge we are facing on the ground is the aid from outside, through our partners, is not enough for the need on the ground,” the news service writes (11/6). In related news, “The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), in a report released [Monday], says the war in Syria continues to devastate food production,” Examiner.com states (Lambers, 11/5).

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