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Ministry of Health launched Sunday a nationwide vaccination campaign against polio that targets 2.2 million children under 5 and will last for five days.

“The campaign is one of a series of other campaigns which the Ministry will launch successively after 17 cases of polio infections have been confirmed in Syria,” said Minister of Health Saad al-Nayef in a press statement following his tour to a number of centers and schools in Damascus.

He noted that the polio cases detected in Syria recently is linked to the strain of Pakistani origin found in sewage in Egypt and the Palestinian territories in the past year, as confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a statement in November.

In a statement late November, Minister al-Nayef said the number of polio infections confirmed in Syria is 17, 13 of them in al-Mayadeen, 2 in Deir Ezzor, 1 in Aleppo and another in Douma, Damascus countryside.

He added during today’s tour that the campaign will coincide with similar immunization campaigns that will be launched in Syria’s neighboring countries, noting that this will help ensure accessing every Syrian child wherever he/she is.

Around 3751 mobile teams with 707 trainers and supervisors have been mobilized to make the campaign a success.

To achieve this end, al-Nayef said the Ministry has set up a comprehensive plan on the national level and on the level of each of the provinces as well as sub-plans on the level of areas to ensure widest vaccination coverage, noting that this has been done in cooperation with the international health organizations, the United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

He affirmed that the vaccines were imported from the best international companies and will be given to children for free without the need for any identification documents or immunization cards for the children.

WHO representative in Syria, Elizabeth Huff, said the organization is working in cooperation with all government, private and civil parties to fight polio in Syria.

In the framework of the campaign, 90 health centers spread across Sweida province were have been receiving children targeted by the campaign, in addition to 15 mobile teams to reach 46,000 children.

In Hasaka, all health centers were equipped and 65 mobile teams were trained to access 250,000 children in the countryside and the city.

The Health Directorate of Daraa, in its turn, has prepared 65 centers and 10 mobile teams with the aim to cover 106,000 children.

The campaign in Hama province targets 297,000 children, while it aims to cover 153,000 children in Lattakia and 141,000 others in Homs.

The current vaccination campaign will run through December 12, as it will be followed by another campaign that will take place on January 4-9, while a third campaign will start on the 2nd of February and continue until 6th.

A forth campaign will be organized on March 2-6, while a fifth one is scheduled on April 6-10 and a sixth campaign will follow on May 4-8.

A national vaccination campaign against polio was organized between October 24 and November 21 and reached nearly 2.223 million children under 5 all over Syria at both health centers and makeshift residential centers, surpassing its planned goal estimated at 1.6 million children.

Contest to select best artistic works on polio launched

In the same context, Health Ministry and the UNICEF launched a contest to select best artistic and innovative works that tackle polio and means of preventing it.

The Ministry said the works include paintings, caricature, photographs, sculptures, press articles, short stories, songs and TV and radio educational segments.

The deadline for submitting the works was set on December 30.

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SANA – 8/12/2013

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