New Urgency to Preventing a Polio Outbreak
The new wave of displacement has given increased urgency to a UNICEF-supported polio immunization campaign that kicked off last week in the face of the ongoing violence.
"The campaign comes at a critical time while the country is witnessing a huge internal exodus of children fleeing violence and turmoil," said Marzio Babille. "This is a top priority for UNICEF. No child should be missed. No child should be paralyzed.
A health worker administers oral polio vaccine to a displaced Yazidi girl in the Bajeed Kandala camp near the Syrian border. © UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1116/Khuzaie
UNICEF spokesperson Juliette Touma noted both the need for the campaign and the challenges it faces in this New York Times article. With two confirmed cases of polio after 14 polio-free years, Iraq is extremely vulnerable to a wider outbreak of the crippling disease. Seven countries are part of the UNICEF-supported campaign to reach 25 million children with polio immunization in response to the regional outbreak that began in Syria.