ANKARA — Anofficial from the Turkish Ministry of Health stated Turkey took all the necessary measures against polio that led to outbreaks in its neighbors Syria and Iraq and underlined that no polio case has been reported in Turkey. Seçil Özkan, the director of ministry's Public Health Agency, said the ministry was on alert against the likelihood of polio, adding that children are being closely monitored. Özkan noted the vaccination rate of the Turkish population reached 98 percent and the rate of children protected against diseases was high, thanks to a vaccination program to develop immunity against 13 diseases and the monitoring of public health by doctors in local staterun clinics across the country. She said that they first launched vaccination campaigns in 11 provinces under risk of polio as they are located near the Syrian border and extended the campaign to six additional provinces bordering with Iraq when the polio outbreak in Syria spilled over into that country. Özkan added Syrians entering Turkey were vaccinated against polio as soon as they cross into Turkish territory and those staying at refugee camps were vaccinated as well. Children up to the age of five are vaccinated against polio.
The last polio case in Turkey was in 1998. Turkey was certified polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002. Polio has no cure and no symptoms are detected in more than 95 percent of children infected with this disease. In October, the United Nations confirmed a major outbreak in Syria, plagued with a conflict that displaced thousands, and announced that neighboring nations were beginning a comprehensive response to the outbreak. Polio was confirmed in 17 Syrian children.