UNICEF and partners support the subnational polio immunization campaign in rural Damascus

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Jana, 4, receives her polio vaccine at a UNICEF-supported health centre in Zakya, Rural Damascus. © UNICEF/Syria/2020/Shahan

Health services continue despite COVID-19 challenges, supported by UNICEF

Rural Damascus, Syria, 23 August 2020 – In rural Damascus, UNICEF and partners continue to tirelessly provide children with critical vaccines despite all challenges caused by the COVID19 pandemic.

One example is Zakya town, a home for around 40,000 people, including many displaced families. The passionate local health workers at the town’s health centre have braved years of conflict and never stopped providing children with health care and vaccines.

Last month, a new subnational polio immunization campaign came at a time when the risk of missing out on life-saving vaccinations among children had increased due to the prevailing fear from contracting the coronavirus.

During the five-day subnational polio immunization campaign, UNICEF provided oral polio vaccines to around 23,000 children under five years in 13 fixed centres and through 92 mobile health teams in Rural Damascus, thanks to a generous contribution by the UK Department of International Development (DFID), the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Gavi, the vaccine alliance.

UNICEF supported the campaign through the provision of vaccines and cold chain equipment, including solar power refrigerators to ensure the safety of vaccines under all circumstances. Prior to the campaign, UNICEF-supported volunteers also went door-to-door informing families of the dates and locations of the campaign, answering their questions about the safety and importance of vaccines, and distributing informative brochures. Volunteers also engaged community leaders, school principals and caregivers in awareness raising sessions to encourage them to advocate for the campaign. Children also took part in fun activities, all designed around polio and the importance of protecting against it.