I was deeply saddened to hear Syria is now facing further woe in the form of Polio outbreaks. The BBC reported how a mother wept for her 5 month old baby son who could be paralysed for the rest of his life. This little boy is one of 25 officially confirmed cases, although experts believe there may be hundreds more. This is terrible news and the saddest thing of all is that in 1999 Syria was declared Polio free – it is the war and chaos that comes with it that has allowed Polio to return.
In July 2013 the first case of paralysis from Polio was officially diagnosed and fears that this appalling condition had returned to Syria were confirmed. Since the war began the vaccination rates amongst Syria’s children have fallen to 68%, a truly worrying level. It was uplifting to hear that UN agencies are planning to vaccinate a further 22 million children but I fear that lasting damage has already been done.
Polio is a disease that can affect a nation for decades. Britain has been declared free of Polio for many years now but we are still living with the effects. The British Polio Fellowship is here to help thousands of British people living with the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS).
People with PPS may develop a variety of symptoms in later life, including muscle pain, weakness and fatigue. PPS is a real problem for sufferers in the UK and I fear victims of Polio in Syria may be facing a lifetime of additional hardship in what is already a very difficult time.
For Polio survivors facing PPS in the UK now, The British Polio Fellowship is a call or a click away. Visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call us on 0800 043 1935.
CEO, The British Polio Fellowship