UN launches Middle East anti-polio campaign
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UN launches Middle East anti-polio campaign

International health workers aim to vaccinate 20 million children in Syria and neighboring countries

A health worker administers polio vaccine to a child as part of a UNICEF-supported vaccination campaign at the Abou Dhar Al Ghifari Primary Health Care Center in Damascus, Syria. (photo credit: AP/UNICEF, Omar Sanadiki)
A health worker administers polio vaccine to a child as part of a UNICEF-supported vaccination campaign at the Abou Dhar Al Ghifari Primary Health Care Center in Damascus, Syria. (photo credit: AP/UNICEF, Omar Sanadiki)

The United Nations says a massive campaign to vaccinate children in the Middle East against polio has begun after the first cases in 14 years were confirmed in northeastern Syria last week.

The UN children’s fund said Friday that Red Crescent and government health workers in Syria and neighboring countries aim to immunize 20 million children.

UNICEF says 10 children have so far been paralyzed by the virus and it poses a risk to hundreds of thousands of children across the region.

It says preliminary evidence indicates that the strain in Syria is of Pakistani origin and is similar to one found in sewage samples in Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Polio has been eradicated in most countries but remains endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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