DAMASCUS, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad vowed on Monday that the government will deliver polio vaccination to children after fresh reports of infections in Syria emerged last week.
Mekdad told reporters that the government does not hinder humanitarian aid efforts to reach different places within the country, adding that some of aid organizations reported it was the armed rebels who hindered aid efforts and robbed supply convoys.
He claimed that "armed terrorist groups" were responsible for destroying hospitals, ambulances and the country's infrastructure, all of them attempts to prevent aid groups from providing health care to those in need.
He further blamed France, the United States and other Western countries of being the source of Syrians' suffering, referring to the economic sanctions those countries have imposed on the country.
Mekdad remarks came amid growing concerns over about polio infections in rebel-held areas, most notably in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour. "The Syrian government is serious about delivering aid," he said, emphasizing the government's responsibility to help all Syrian children regardless of their affiliations.
He pledged that the Syrian government will support humanitarian organizations helping children, stressing however that all aid should coordinated with the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
The United Nations has recently said that 10 cases of polio have been confirmed among children in Syria, the first ever reported in the Middle East country since 1999, and it urged organizations to vaccinate Syrian children to prevent an epidemic.
The cases were first found in the Deir al-Zour province in the northeast region of Syria, many of the victims were younger than two years old and were either without immunization or under immunized.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system and can cause complete paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine.
The health situation in Syria has been deteriorating due to shortages of medicines and medical workers, destruction of health facilities and difficult access to health care, the World Health Organization (WHO) said last Friday.
A total of 64 percent of the war-torn country's public hospitals have been affected as of July by the conflict, which erupted in March 2011, said the WHO officials, adding that among them, 24 percent had been damaged, while the rest had been out of service.
More than 50 percent of the skilled health workers had left the country and the situation is much worse in those areas most impacted by the conflict. At least 70 percent of the doctors in Homs left the city, which was a major battleground for the conflict in Syria, said the officials.
Due to substantial damages to pharmaceuticals plants, local production of medicine has been reduced by 65 percent to 70 percent. This compares poorly to pre-conflict rates, where 90 percent of the medicine in Syria was produced locally, the officials said.
UN confirms 10 polio cases in northeast Syria
BEIJING, Oct. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- The World Health Organization says it has confirmed 10 cases of polio in northeast Syria, the first confirmed outbreak of the disease in the country in 14 years. The UN health agency also says there is a high risk of the disease spreading across the region.
Syria launched a vaccination campaign around the country days after the Geneva-based WHO said it had received reports of children showing symptoms of polio in Deir el-Zour province. But the campaign faces difficulty due to a lack of security and access to many parts of the war-torn country. Full story