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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 64-66

Polio in Syria: Problem still not solved

1 Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary; Department of Health Sciences, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA
2 Mayo Evidence-based Practice Center, Kern Center for Science of Healthcare Delivery, Knowledge Synthesis Program, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
3 Department of Health Sciences, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA
4 Northeastern University School of Law, Bouvv College of Health Sciences, Boston, MA; Division of Global Public Health, UC San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, CA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Ahmad Al-Moujahed
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, 325 Cambridge Street, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02114
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ajm.AJM_173_16

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The reappearance of polio in Syria in mid-2013, 18 years after it was eliminated from the country, manifests the public health catastrophe brought on by the civil war. Among the lessons learned, this outbreak emphasizes the importance of increasing the international financial and logistical support for vaccine and immunization efforts, especially in countries suffering from conflicts. The lack of access to polio accredited laboratory or outright lack of laboratories in settings of conflict should be recognized allowing international surveillance to be strengthened by supplementing the laboratory definition with the clinical definition. In addition, it illustrates the imperative for the United Nations (UN) agencies involved in global health to be able to operate independently from governments during conflicts in order to provide adequate and efficient medical and humanitarian relief for civilians. Proper communicable disease surveillance and control, delivery of vaccinations, and other pivotal healthcare services to these areas require independence from governments and all military actors involved. Moreover, it shows the necessity to adequately support and fund the front-line nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are implementing the delivery of medical and humanitarian aid in Syria.

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