The New York Review of Books has taken a detailed look at the emerging polio crisis in Syria, digging into the current situation and its causes.
In 2002 India suffered 1,599 cases of polio, 17 times more than Pakistan experienced that year. Yet a little more than one decade later India has eradicated polio, while a city in Pakistan is being called the world's "largest reservoir" of the virus.
The GAVI Alliance is adding the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) to the list of products it makes available for routine immunization in the world's 73 poorest countries. GAVI is encouraging countries to co-finance IPV but not making it mandatory.
When the number of Syrians fleeing their war-torn state to live in neighboring countries topped two million, the United Nations refugee head called the situation a "humanitarian calamity." Now it is getting worse, with the potential for the refugees to carry polio across the Middle East and Europe causing alarm.
The polio outbreak in Syria has the World Health Organization worried. Just weeks after outlining a two-month, 10-million dose vaccination campaign, the United Nations' public health arm has escalated its plans. The new goal is to vaccinate 50 million kids across the Middle East over the next 8 months.
Polio has reportedly crippled dozens of children in Pakistan over the past 6 months. For now, these outbreaks are contained, but with authorities finding the polio virus in sewage samples in major cities, there are fears the disease will spread.
Vaccines have faced heavy scrutiny in India in recent months, with the safety of pentavalent jabs and ethics of a PATH project being questioned.
The initiative initially focused on the south of the country where polio was found in sewage. Having vaccinated 50,000 children in the area, the campaign has gone nationwide.
In the months since finding poliovirus in sewage, Israeli officials have found that up to 2,000 people in the south of Israel may carry the virus, prompting the government to buy 500,000 vaccines for an immunization campaign.
Samples taken in Gaza and the West Bank have been consistently negative for the polio virus since 2002, but the virus has now surfaced in sewage in the south. An emergency response is under way.