Syria/Iraq: Polio Outbreak - Oct 2013
On 28 Oct 2013, the Minister of Health of the Syrian Arab Republic announced that, after a 15-year absence, polio had returned to the Middle East. Thirteen cases were confirmed from Syria's Deir Al Zour province. The occurrence of an outbreak reflects declining immunization rates due to the severe interruption of public health services and to the conditions in which the people are living. A comprehensive outbreak response will need to be implemented across the region, with seven countries and territories to conduct mass polio vaccination campaigns targeting more than 22 million children aged under 5 years. (Strategic Plan for Polio Outbreak Response in the Middle East)
As of 8 Feb 2014, 17 confirmed polio cases had been reported from Syria's Deir ez-Zour Governorate, three from Aleppo Governorate, one from Al. Hasakeh Governorate and two from Idleb Governorate (WHO/UNICEF, 8 Feb 2014).
By 20 Mar, a total of 37 cases had been reported: 25 cases by the Syrian Arab Republic Ministry of Health, and 12 cases from contested areas (Aleppo, Edleb and Deir Al Zour) not yet reflected in official figures. The most recent case had onset of paralysis on 17 Dec 2013. Further evidence of regional spread was confirmed by notification of a case from Iraq, the first polio case in the country since 2000. The case, a six-month old boy from Baghdad who had not been immunized, developed paralysis on 10 Feb 2014. Genetic sequencing indicates the virus is most closely related to virus detected in the Syrian Arab Republic. (WHO, 21 Mar 2014)
By 8 Oct, three cases had been reported in the Middle East with onset of paralysis in 2014 - two in Iraq and one in Syria. The most recent case reported from Iraq occurred in Mada'in district, Baghdad-Resafa province, with onset of paralysis on 7 Apr. Syria’s most recent case had onset of paralysis on 21 Jan. The fact that six months had passed with no new cases being reported indicates that transmission of the virus has been interrupted. (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 8 Oct 2014)
In December, the regular Health Sector Coordination Meeting was held in Gaziantep, chaired by WHO and co-chaired by UNHCR. Experts from WHO Europe and Public Health Institute of the Turkish MoH carried out a polio review mission between 30 November and 6 December in the following provinces: Adana, Istanbul, Erzurum, Samsun and Diyarbakir. WHO and Gaziantep University are in preparation for refugee nurses / midwife training which is planned to be conducted in near future.
UNICEF 2015 Plan Highlights
• The WASH programme will continue the transition from first-phase emergency services to more sustainable, and costeffective systems, and reinforcing WASH services in areas impacted by refugee influx.
• Health programmes will increase access to health care for refugee and impacted host population, including strengthening routine immunization and campaigns especially for polio which continues to threaten the region.
UNICEF sector leads in WASH, Education, Nutrition and Child Protection Working Group provided leadership in developing the 2015 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for Syria which will officially be launched in December 2014. The humanitarian response articulated in SRP is within the framework of the Whole of Syria approach, which is bringing together humanitarian actors working from inside Syria or neighbouring countries for the first time, aimed at increasing the overall effectiveness of the response.
Statement by Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa on the Launch of the 2015 Strategic Response Plan for Syria (SRP) and the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) 2015-16
Amman, December 18, 2014: “The Syria crisis represents the biggest threat to children of recent times. By the end of 2015, the lives of over 8.6 million children across the region will have been torn apart by violence and forced displacement. That compares to a figure of 7 million just one month ago.
NEW YORK/GENÈVE, 8 décembre 2014 – Pour des millions d’enfants, l’année 2014 aura été marquée par la peur, le désespoir et l’horreur, à cause des conflits de plus en plus graves au cours desquels ils ont été exposés à une violence extrême et à ses conséquences, ils ont été recrutés de force et ils ont été pris expressément en cible par des groupes armés, a affirmé l’UNICEF aujourd’hui.
Minimum Initial Service Package training was conducted in Adana.
In November, the regular Health Sector Coordination Meeting was held in Gaziantep, chaired by WHO and co-chaired by UNHCR. WHO conducted capacity building training for 25 Syrian medical doctors in Turkey between 24th and 29th November 2014.
On 23 October, the revised Strategic Response Plan for Iraq (SRP), was launched, with a US$ 2.2 billion appeal to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of 5.2 million vulnerable people. As part of the SRP, UNICEF is appealing for a total of US$329.6 million to the end of 2015.
In September, 4 of the UNHCR procured prefabricated health clinics have been delivered in Ceylanpinar (urban and camp), Nizip (camp) and Viransehir (camp). The remaining 6 clinics are expected to be delivered by December 2014.
Hopes rise that disease outbreak has been contained
Amman, 24 October 2014 - As the world marks World Polio Day, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners across the Middle East are bolstering efforts to contain a polio outbreak triggered by the conflict in Syria and Iraq last year.
40,000 people have been displaced within and from Anbar Governorate, during the recent increase in violence, with some suffering secondary and multiple displacements.
The ongoing insecurity is affecting the October/November wheat planting season and livestock herders, and while current nutritional assessments of IDPs show no signs of concern, a protracted crisis could lead to medium-term food insecurity, directly impacting the healthy development of a generation of young Iraqis.
Heightened insecurity in northern Syria has resulted in fresh displacement of Syrian refugees into Turkey and Iraq, as well as internal displacement inside Syria. The insecurity has impacted on the humanitarian situation in northern Syria, limiting access. Meanwhile the Syrian civil war continues unabated, as witnessed by explosions near two elementary schools in Homs city on 1st October killing 29 children and injuring 37 more.
• 18,642 IDPs benefited from UNICEF’s Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) within last week. UNICEF’s partners NRC, Mercy Corps, DRC, Save the Children and ACTED distributed urgently needed relief items including bottled water, buckets, high-energy biscuits and hygiene kits to IDPs with immediate needs in targeted locations including Zakho, Daquq and Kirkuk Districts in Dahuk and Kirkuk Governorates.
During August 2014, experts from UNHCR and MoH continued to inspect the constructions of the 10 prefabricated health clinics, 2 of which are expected to be delivered in September 2014.
As the conflict in Syria continues unabated, there are now over 3 million refugees from Syria across Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. Over 50 per cent of the Syrian refugees are children.
The crisis in Iraq is compounding the humanitarian situation in neighboring countries. There are now 5,000 Iraqi refugees in a camp in Al-Hassakeh region in Syria, and 16,000 Iraqi refugees in the south-eastern Turkish province of Sirnak who require humanitarian assistance.
ERBIL, 23 September 2014 – A mass polio immunization campaign that was carried out this week in the midst of ongoing violence in Iraq has concluded successfully in all 18 Governorates throughout the country. The campaign was the first national polio vaccination activity since May.
By Ruth Ansah Ayisi
For young Syrian children who fled the conflict in their home country, a UNICEF-supported preschool programme in Egypt helps give them stability and the chance for a new future.
CAIRO, Egypt, 22 September 2014 – As his kindergarten teacher coaxes Oudi to talk about his favourite activity, the 4-year-old twists his fingers and stares straight past her, fixing his large eyes on something only he can see.