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Polio cases on increase in Syria

The latest WHO update states that 17 cases of polio have been confirmed in Syria, 15 in Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria, one in rural Damascus and one in Aleppo. The first case of polio was recorded last October in Deir al-Zour, 14 years after Syria eradicated polio.

An intensive vaccination programme has commenced in Syria as well as in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, southern Turkey and Iraq.

The recurrence of polio in Syria has highlighted the breakdown of the healthcare system in a country that previously had one of the most advanced medical services in the Middle East.

India marks polio eradication

India has marked three years since its last reported polio case. This was achieved through a nationwide immunisation programme. In 2012 the WHO removed India from the list of polio-endemic countries. The list refers to countries in which the virus is circulating freely and the transmission of the infectious disease has not been stopped.

The eradication was achieved by the partnership between the Indian government, international organisations, local NGOs and other institutions.

The eradication of polio has been due to an improved vaccine delivery system, better trained health staff and high quality surveillance, monitoring and research mechanisms.

Obesity in US

A third of the population of Mississippi, USA, could have diabetes by 2030, said a leading US physician. Dr Richard deShazo from the University of Mississippi's medical centre is one of a group of physicians and academics warning families about the consequences of obesity. Mississippi has one of the highest obesity rates in the USA. It dropped slightly in the latest government survey to second place behind Louisiana where 34.7 per cent of the population are obese compared with 34.6 per cent in Mississippi.

World Outbreak Information

Sudan

Since the outbreak of violence in South Sudan on 15 December a total of 195,426 people gave been displaced from the four states, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The population displacement has increased the risk of disease outbreaks, especially for water borne diseases.

'The poor water sanitation and hygiene conditions in the camps, coupled with a shortage of health workers/healthcare providers, poses risks to thousands of displaced persons in the UN camp bases,' said Dr Abdi Aden Mohammed, the WHO country representative in South Sudan.

In order to minimise the risks of potential outbreaks WHO is working closely with other health authorities and other health partners to identify health workers in displaced camps who can provide primary health care services.

A shortage of healthcare workers in states affected by conflict makes provision of quality primary healthcare a challenge. Many healthcare workers and NGO partners supporting health services have fled their homes for safety, said the WHO. In response to the ongoing crisis the WHO is providing trauma management and emergency health kits to the clinics, as well as providing essential drugs and medical supplies to help the management of common illnesses.

Central African Republic

Two cases of measles have been confirmed in two camps for displaced persons near Bangui Airport and at the Don Bosco Centre in Damala, Central African Republic. WHO, UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontières and other partners began emergency response immunisation from 3 January 2014 to control this outbreak. More than 60,000 children aged between six months and 15 years will be covered by the immunisation activities: 40,000 at the airport camp and more than 20,000 at the Don Bosco Centre.

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