Rotary will provide a $500,000 emergency response grant to support efforts to stem the recent polio outbreak in Syria. The funds are the first to the World Health Organization in direct support of a Global Polio Eradication Initiative plan to conduct large-scale immunization campaigns in the Middle East.
“It is imperative that we stop this outbreak quickly to protect children in Syria and throughout the region,” says Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee Chair Robert S. Scott. “Rotary and our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are working together with local health authorities to activate the outbreak response.”
He noted that the cases in Syria appear to be imported from Pakistan, one of three countries where the wild poliovirus remains endemic. “These and other recent polio cases in previously polio-free countries serve as stark reminders that as long as polio still exists anywhere in the world, all unimmunized children everywhere remain at risk,” says Scott.
Today, seven countries across the region rolled out vaccination campaigns aiming to reach 22 million children. These campaigns are planned to be repeated over the next six months to protect children in the region from the polio outbreak.