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DATE=10/4/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAQ / POLIO (L-O) NUMBER=2-254638 BYLINE=LISA SCHLEIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The United Nations says it hopes to provide polio vaccinations for about three-and-one-half- million children in Iraq during the next three days. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports the World Health Organization and UNICEF -- the U-N Children's Fund -- organized the program after an outbreak of the disease in Iraq. TEXT: The World Health Organization says widespread transmission of the polio virus in Iraq is posing a growing health threat to the country and to the region as a whole. W-H-O says that since May, it has confirmed 16 cases of the crippling disease in Iraq. An additional 19 cases are being investigated. W-H-O Medical Officer Rudy Tangermann says Iraq was thought to have been polio free. He says this makes the renewed outbreak of disease very worrisome. Dr. Tangermann says he believes the economic sanctions against Iraq are affecting the overall delivery of health services. And, this he says, makes it more difficult to bring vaccines into the country. /// TANGERMANN ACT ONE /// Some of the reasons why we do see this outbreak is that routine immunization coverage and the coverage during the NIDS (National Immunization Days) simply was not good enough to prevent the outbreak, to create good enough immunity levels which at least is somewhat related to this special situation. And, I would say, indirectly related also to the relative isolation and economic sanctions. /// END ACT /// The W-H-O reports nine of the confirmed cases of polio were found in nomadic cattle-herding families. Most of the reported cases involve children under age two who had not been properly immunized. The health agency also says the migration of people across national boundaries and civil unrest help create perfect conditions for the spread of the polio virus. Dr. Tangermann says this could pose serious problems for Iraq's neighbors. /// TANGERMANN ACT TWO /// The resurgence of polio is threatening neighboring countries by the risk of exportation from this country into neighboring countries which, in this case are Jordan, Iraq, Syria in the north, and Turkey. And so we are very concerned. This needs to be stamped out, as it were, as soon as possible to avoid these negative consequences. /// END ACT /// The World Health Organization will conduct a second round of immunizations in Iraq next month. Another two rounds are planned early next year. (SIGNED) NEB/LS/JWH/RAE 04-Oct-1999 12:04 PM LOC (04-Oct-1999 1604 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .