Turkey’s Ministry of Health announces that 1.5 million children will be vaccinated against polio through a UNICEF-supported campaign
Campaigns of mass vaccination against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases are under way in Syria and neighbouring countries amid concern about a polio emergency in the Middle East
GAZIANTEP, Turkey, 18 November 2013 – The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Turkey has launched a vaccination campaign to prevent any possible outbreak of polio spreading across regional borders following the confirmation of polio cases in Syria. The campaign, which aims to reach 1.5 million children aged 0-59 months, is being supported by UNICEF and WHO.
Teams from the Ministry of Health will conduct the vaccinations from door to door. In the six Syrian border provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep, Kilis, Şanlıurfa, Mardin and Şırnak, as well as in Adana, all children under five years of age will be vaccinated, whether they are Turkish citizens or foreign nationals. In other provinces, the vaccination campaign will target all Syrian children aged 0-59 months. Both children living in camps and children living in the community will receive vaccinations. In addition, vaccinations will be administered to Turkish children and children from other countries who are under five years old and who live in places which the Public Health Directorates identify as high risk areas.
Speaking at the launch of the “Polio Vaccination Campaign” at the Gaziantep Public Health Centre, UNICEF Turkey Representative Dr. Ayman Abulaban stated that poliomyelitis had almost been eradicated worldwide thanks to the efforts of UNICEF, ministries of health, WHO and other relevant organizations. However, he added, such diseases can reappear at times, such as periods of war, when hygienic conditions deteriorate. In particular, Dr. Abulaban went on, the interruption due to war of routine vaccination procedures designed to strengthen children’s immune systems creates suitable conditions for epidemics like polio to break out and spread.
The last case of polio was reported in Turkey and in Europe in 1998. Turkish Government and especially Ministry of Health of Turkey give all their attention not to face it out any polio case once again within all over the country. WHO Europe Zone which includes Turkey was declared as “Polio Free Zone” in June 2002.
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