Ausbreitung der Kinderlähmung soll gestoppt werden *
Die UNO hat ihre bislang umfangreichste Polio-Impfkampagne gestartet, um die Ausbreitung der Kinderlähmung in Syrien und der gesamten Region zu stoppen.
In den kommenden sechs Monaten sollen 20 Millionen Kinder in Syrien und sechs weiteren Staaten gegen Polio immunisiert werden, teilten die Weltgesundheitsorganisation (WHO) und das UN-Kinderhilfswerk UNICEF am Freitag in Genf mit. In Syrien seien schon rund 650 000 Kinder gegen Poliomyelitis geimpft worden, darunter 116 000 im Kampfgebiet Deir al Sur im Nordosten, teilten WHO und UNICEF mit. Der Erreger habe in der Region schon zehn Kinder gelähmt und bedrohe Hunderttausende weitere. In den vergangenen zwölf Monaten sei der Virus in Abwasserproben in Ägypten, Israel, Westjordanland und Gaza-Streifen nachgewiesen worden. Und das, obwohl Polio in der Region seit fast zehn Jahren als ausgerottet galt.
Nach UN-Angaben wurden in den vergangenen zwei Jahren wegen der Kämpfe in Syrien eine halbe Million Kinder nicht gegen die hoch ansteckende und vor allem für die Kleinen lebensgefährliche Infektionskrankheit geimpft. Die Impfrate sei seit Beginn des Bürgerkriegs von 90 auf 68 Prozent gesunken. Der Polio-Virus befällt das Nervensystem und kann innerhalb von wenigen Stunden zur Lähmung des gesamten Körpers bis hin zum Tod führen. Übertragen wird der Erreger durch Tröpfchen- oder Schmierinfektion.
Die Rückkehr der Kinderlähmung nach Europa sei eine »reale« Gefahr, warnten Martin Eichner von der Universität Tübingen und Stefan Brockmann vom Reutlinger Kreisgesundheitsamt am Freitag in einem Beitrag für die britische Fachzeitschrift »The Lancet«. Es sei »nicht ausreichend«, wenn nur syrische Flüchtlinge geimpft würden. Auch Touristen und Geschäftsreisende könnten den Virus einschleppen.
Die Wissenschaftler rechneten vor, dass nur einer von 200 infizierten Menschen die vollen Symptome entwickele, deswegen könne sich der Virus ein Jahr lang ausbreiten, bis er entdeckt werde.
* Aus: neues deutschland, Samstag, 9. November 2013
Massive anti-polio campaign to reach 20 million children across Middle East – UN agency **
8 November 2013 – Aiming to stop a polio outbreak in Syria from spreading across the region, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is spearheading the largest-ever immunization campaign in the Middle East today, with plans to vaccinate some 20 million children in seven countries and territories against the highly infectious virus.
Presenting a consolidated report on the polio outbreak, WHO spokesperson Sona Bari told reporters in Geneva that the massive consolidated immunization response, which also includes the UN Children’s’ Fund (UNICEF), is already under way in the region targeting over 20 million children in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, as well as in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Ms. Bari said the unprecedented response to polio virus circulation in the region includes plans for a six-month sustained effort of intense immunization activity.
“Multiple mass immunization efforts are aimed at protecting as many children as possible,” she said, explaining that inside Syria, the campaign is targeting 1.6 million children with vaccines against polio, measles, mumps and rubella.
In Jordan, over 18,800 children under the age of five have been vaccinated against polio in a campaign in the previous few days targeting all children at Za’atari camp and a nationwide campaign is currently under way to reach 3.5 million people with polio, measles and rubella.
Ms. Bari said that in Iraq, a vaccination campaign has begun in the west of the country, with another campaign planned in the Kurdistan Region in the coming days. Lebanon’s nationwide campaign would begin later in the week and Turkey and Egypt by mid-November.
Equally important is heightened disease surveillance at the global level, she added, to detect any cases in areas thought to be polio-free.
In late October, WHO confirmed the polio outbreak in strife-riven Syria, reporting that out of 22 cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), 10 had been confirmed as being the result of Wild Polio Virus Type 1, with other cases still being investigated.
The cases were initially reported on 17 October in the Deir Al Zour province in the north-east region of Syria. Due to the protracted conflict, which has displaced millions, Syria had already been considered at high-risk for vaccine-preventable diseases.
While, the country has not experienced a case of polio since 1999, Syria’s immunization rates plummeted from more than 90 per cent before the conflict to currently 68 per cent. WHO says preliminary evidence indicates that the poliovirus was of Pakistani origin and was similar to the strain detected in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Polio, whose virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestines, attacking the nervous system, is highly infectious and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.
Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis and among those paralyzed, five to 10 per cent die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
Ms. Bari said that emergency immunization campaigns in and around Syria to prevent transmission of polio and other preventable diseases had vaccinated more than 650,000 children in Syria, including 116,000 in the highly-contested Deir-ez-Zor province.
For its part, UNICEF has procured 1.35 billion doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) so far this year and by the end of 2013 will have procured up to 1.7 billion doses to meet the increased demand.
Global supply of OPV has already been under strain with vaccine manufacturers producing at full capacity. The new outbreak in Syria added further pressure to the supply but WHO, UNICEF and manufacturers are working to secure sufficient quantities to reach all children.
UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said that inside Syria, the biggest challenge the agency and its partners were facing is how to reach children who have not been vaccinated over the previous two years because they are in areas where violence is taking place and there is limited or no access.
She said that UNICEF’s priority in the following weeks was to reach the maximum number of children in such areas. A “small breakthrough” occurred on Wednesday, when UNICEF successfully negotiated on behalf of other UN agencies access to reach Bludan in rural Damascus, an area that has been inaccessible for months. Bludan, which before the crisis had around 4,000 residents, now houses some 60,000, mostly displaced.
She said the UNCEF-led team had to cross eight checkpoints to reach the area. The mission delivered vaccines, syringes, safety boxes, vaccination cards and nutrition supplies including micronutrients, high energy biscuits and therapeutic foods.
** UN News Centre, 8 November 2013; http://www.un.org
UN health agency confirms polio outbreak in Syria ***
29 October 2013 – The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed 10 cases of polio in conflict-stricken Syria, adding that health authorities in the country and neighbouring nations have already begun a comprehensive response to the outbreak.
In a briefing to reporters in Geneva, WHO Communications Officer Oliver Rosenbauer said that out of 22 reported cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), 10 had been confirmed as being the result of Wild Polio Virus Type 1. The remaining 12 cases are still being investigated.
The cases were initially reported on 17 October in the Deir Al Zour province in the north-east region of Syria. Due to the protracted conflict, which has displaced millions, Syria had already been considered at high-risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. However, the country has not experienced a case of polio since 1999.
Polio, whose virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine attacking the nervous system, is highly infectious and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.
Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, and stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis and among those paralyzed, five to 10 per cent die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
Mr. Rosenbauer said the next step was to look at the isolated viruses and identify where they came from, to shed light on the source of the outbreak.
The 22 people who have been tested are children, mostly toddlers less than two years old. All of them appeared to be under or unimmunized, with some having received one dose of a vaccine and others not receiving any vaccination at all. Mr. Rosenbauer said the children came down with fever and were then paralysed.
WHO spokesperson Glenn Thomas added that health authorities in Syria and neighbouring countries had already begun the planning and implementation of the comprehensive outbreak response.
Meanwhile, a UN spokesperson in New York reported today that Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF, ended a two-day visit to Damascus, in which he said that the Syrian Government and agency had agreed on the importance of reaching hundreds of thousands of children in some of the worst-affected parts of the war-torn country with life saving vaccines, including those against polio.
He said that Mr. Lake said that immunizing children is in its very nature non-political and has no connection to any military considerations. Mr. Lake said that, with cases of polio now emerging in Syria for the first time since 1999, vaccinating children against polio is an urgent and critical priority for Syria and for the whole world.
** UN News Centre, 29 October 2013; http://www.un.org
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