Of all the horrors occurring in Syria — more than 11,500 deaths, torture, displacement, the resurgence of infectious diseases — the outbreak of polio is a “war crime of truly epidemic proportions.”
That’s the verdict of Dr. Annie Sparrow, a critical-care pediatrician and public health professional who is also assistant professor of global health and deputy director of the human rights program at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
She writes about polio in Syria in the 20 February issue of the New York Review of Books.
Syria has not had an indigenous case of polio since 1995 — until last year, when 90 cases were documented. That outbreak is entirely man-made, Dr. Sparrow argues, because part of the government’s war strategy has been to target immunization programs, physicians and the health-care system generally. Continue reading →