WHO warns of increased risk of disease epidemics in Syria and neighbouring countries

Over the past two years, Syria’s health system has been severely disrupted. New cases of measles have reappeared due to a drop in national vaccination coverage.

In the first quarter of 2013, the number of laboratory-confirmed measles cases in Syria reached 139, compared to zero cases in 2010 and 2011. National campaigns to vaccinate children have been hindered due to accessibility and security issues, resulting in high numbers of unvaccinated children in inaccessible areas. With thousands of Syrians crossing the borders each day, measles cases have been reported among displaced Syrians in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.

With thousands of Syrians crossing the borders each day, diseases that are prevalent inside Syria are being transmitted to neighbouring countries. Measles, tuberculosis and cutaneous leishmaniasis have been reported among displaced Syrians in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. “Jordan had previously reported zero cases of measles for 3 years, and was planning to officially declare that it was measles-free. The situation will deteriorate if prevention and control measures are not scaled up soon,” said Dr Jaouad Mahjour, Director of the Department for Communicable Diseases at WHO’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

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