GENEVA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- A week after the Middle East declared a polio emergency, a large-scale immunization response in the region is under way.
The move is aiming to vaccinate over 20 million children in seven countries and territories, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
The seven countries and territories in the consolidated emergency response to the polio outbreak include Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Syria and Turkey.
It said the immunization campaign inside Syria, which is targeting 1.6 million children, to prevent transmission of polio and other preventable diseases have vaccinated more than 650,000 children, including 116,000 in Deir al-Zour province where the polio outbreak was confirmed a week ago.
The first polio outbreak in Syria since 1999, it has so far left 10 children paralyzed, and poses a risk of paralysis to hundreds of thousands of children across the region.
Preliminary evidence indicates that the poliovirus is of Pakistani origin and is similar to the strain detected in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the last 12 months, according to the WHO.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said it has procured 1.35 billion doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to date in 2013 and by the end of the year will have procured up to 1.7 billion doses to meet increased demand.
The new outbreak in Syria is adding further pressure to the supply of OPV but WHO, UNICEF and manufacturers are working to secure sufficient quantities to reach all children, it said.
The largest-ever consolidated immunization response to polio virus circulation in the region includes plans for a six-month sustained effort of intense immunization activity.
UN agencies also suggest to strengthen disease surveillance until the global eradication of polio, to find cases which may have been missed in an environment which was until recently polio-free.
Destruction of chemical weapons outside Syria best option: OPCW
THE HAGUE, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- Destroying Syria's chemical weapons in another country could be "the most viable option," the chief of the global chemical weapons watchdog said on Tuesday.
Speaking at an Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said Syria's proposal to destroy the chemical weapons elsewhere was based on "practical challenges of carrying out destruction work in the midst of an armed conflict," as well as on "resource limitations." Full story