12 March 2018 – The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are supporting a nationwide polio vaccination campaign in the Syrian Arab Republic that aims to vaccinate more than 2.4 million children under 5 years of age in 13 governorates. The campaign, which is being managed by the Ministry of Health, was launched on 11 March and will last for 5 days.
Mass polio vaccinations require meticulous planning and tremendous resources. Typically, more than 9000 staff and 1000 vehicles are needed for each campaign. To support this round of vaccinations, WHO facilitated the training of immunization volunteers, supervisors and coordinators, and supported the establishment of 104 vaccine distribution centres. WHO is covering the cost of transporting vaccinators and vaccines. WHO evaluates each campaign and uses the results to improve planning for future rounds. UNICEF provides the vaccines and is responsible for informing communities about the importance of vaccinating children.
"WHO is keen to ensure the success of this campaign and is determined to see that every last child in Syria is vaccinated,” said Elizabeth Hoff, WHO Representative in Syria. "WHO will continue its efforts to eradicate polio until the whole world is declared polio-free”, she added. The most recent case of wild poliovirus in Syria dates back to April 2014.