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Polio Eradication Initiative | Press releases

Press releases

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  • Somalia polio free for 6 months but UN says vaccination campaigns must continue as risks remain
    19 February 2015Nairobi, 19 February 2015 - Somalia is marking six months since the last polio case was seen in the country following an outbreak that affected 199 people, mostly children.
  • Devastating Middle East polio outbreak on verge of being stopped, say experts
    27 January 2015A 12-month emergency immunization response across the Middle East appears to have halted an outbreak of polio that began in Syria and Iraq, according to health experts meeting in Beirut.
  • Polio immunization drive targets 25 million children across the Middle East
    27 October 2014As the world marks World Polio Day, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners across the Middle East are bolstering efforts to contain a polio outbreak triggered by the conflict in Syria and Iraq last year. In the coming weeks, 25 million children under the age of five, across seven countries, (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq) will be vaccinated against polio, amid rising hopes the outbreak in the region has been contained.
  • WHO intensifies polio eradication efforts
    08 September 2014Key World Health Organization (WHO) staff dedicated to the global fight of eradicating polio ended a three-day meeting in Muscat, Oman, today. The meeting discussed ways to prevent outbreaks in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa and to stop transmission of this crippling and potentially deadly disease in the endemic countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • WHO statement on the meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee concerning the international spread of wild poliovirus
    05 May 2014The Emergency Committee convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations [IHR (2005)] was held on 28 April 2014 and on 29 April 2014. The Committee advised that the international spread of polio January-April 2014 (normally low-transmission season) constitutes an ‘extraordinary event’ and a public health risk to other States for which a coordinated international response is essential.
  • Lebanon launches nationwide polio immunization campaign
    10 April 2014As the risk of polio grows across the Eastern Mediterranean Region, the Ministry of Public Health of Lebanon today launched a national polio immunization campaign to prevent polio regaining a foothold in Lebanon after an absence of 13 years. This campaign is part of a multi-country regional drive to contain the spread of the highly infectious and incurable virus. The campaign aims to immunize at least 600 000 children under-5 in Lebanon against polio over the coming six days. Vaccinators will also protect all children under 18 against measles and rubella and deliver vitamin A to strengthen their immune systems.
  • First mass vaccination campaigns start since polio found in Iraq
    07 April 2014Polio vaccination campaigns commenced in Syria, Iraq and Egypt today, aiming to reach more than 20 million children over the next five days. For Iraq, this will be the first nationwide vaccination campaign since a case of polio was confirmed by the Ministry of Health on 30 March in a six-month-old boy from Rusafa, northern Baghdad. “The recent detection of a polio case in Iraq after a 14-year absence is a reminder of the risk currently facing children throughout the region,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “It is now even more imperative to boost routine immunizations to reach every child multiple times and do whatever we can to vaccinate children we could not reach in previous rounds. That’s the only way we will prevent this outbreak from spreading further.”
  • Islamic scholars call for access to vaccinate children
    27 February 2014The world’s leading Islamic scholars, led by the Grand Imam of the Holy Mosque of Mecca, today stated that protection against diseases is obligatory and admissible under Islamic Shariah, and that any actions which do not support these preventive measures and cause harm to humanity are un-Islamic. The scholars adopted a strong “Jeddah Declaration” and a focused six-month Plan of Action to address critical challenges facing polio eradication efforts in the few remaining polio-endemic parts of the Islamic world: a ban on vaccinations and lack of access to children in some areas, deadly attacks on health workers, and misconceptions by the community about mass vaccination campaigns.
  • Global Islamic Advisory Group (IAG) meeting on polio eradication opens in Jeddah
    27 February 2014The Islamic Advisory Group (IAG) for polio eradication on Wednesday held its first meeting to review the global polio situation, particularly in polio-endemic, predominantly Muslim countries where the disease continues to strike and cripple children.
  • Over 23 million children to be vaccinated in mass polio immunization campaign across Middle East
    12 September 2013 The largest-ever immunization response in the Middle East is under way this week, aiming to vaccinate more than 23 million children against polio in Syria and neighbouring countries over the coming weeks. The campaign is a crucial part of the response to an outbreak of the virus-borne disease in Syria, where 17 cases have so far been confirmed, and to the detection of the virus in environmental samples in other parts of the Middle East.
  • Islamic Development Bank accelerates polio eradication effort in Pakistan
    15 August 2013As part of the international emergency effort to complete global polio eradication, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has disbursed US$ 32.6 million to help ensure that no child in Pakistan ever again dies or is permanently paralyzed by this debilitating disease.
  • Islamic scholars call for urgent action to complete polio eradication in Muslim communities, 6 March 2013
    07 March 2013The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Doctor Ahmad Al Tayyeb, today called for the protection of Muslim children against poliovirus transmission by ensuring they receive the required polio vaccine. He stressed the importance of increasing the awareness of the correct Islamic teachings on the subject to combat all deformed and false beliefs, and confirmed that Al-Azhar is ready to continue to exert all efforts to enlighten Muslim individuals and communities about the rights of children to be protected against polio and all other diseases and the obligation of all muslims to ensure that their children are protected.

Indicators and information

Wild polio cases by country in the Region for 2019 - 2020


P1 Total



29 29


139 139

Total 2019

168 168



4 4

Total 2020 (up to 26 January 2020)

4 4

Polio Fax issues

Middle East Polio Technical Bulletin

Surveillance Indicators

Supplementary Immunization Activities

Routine immunization
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