UOSSM urges polio vaccination in Syria's opposition-controlled areas

The Union of the Syrian Medical Relief Organizations asked international agencies on Wednesday to extend their polio vaccination campaign to areas controlled by the opposition in Syria.

The UOSSM asked UNICEF and the World Health Organization to extend their vaccination campaign to make sure the campaign to protect susceptible children across Syria and in refugee camps continues to contain the deadly outbreak. The organization said political turmoil is keeping vaccination efforts from reaching children in rebel areas, where conditions are most dire.

"Administering the vaccine against polio is a time sensitive issue," Tawfik Chamaa, the spokesperson for UOSSM, said. "Given the complexity of the situation on the ground in the opposition controlled areas, and the difficulty to control the environmental and living conditions, we have to direct our focus on mass vaccination to ensure that children under the age of five receive the vaccine and are protected against polio."

The UOSSM, a coalition of 16 independent, non-governmental and humanitarian organizations, offered its help to WHO and UNICEF. Chamaa said the issue should be addressed quickly to prevent additional consequences of the polio outbreak.

"Being highly contagious, polio could be easily spread among not vaccinated children, especially in the war torn areas, and in the refugee camps," Chamaa said. "Polio is a big challenge for WHO and UNICEF and should be addressed and approached appropriately to contain the further spread of the disease. We extend our offer to help and coordinate the work with UNICEF and WHO on every possible means."