The news that typhoid has broken in Northern Syria should not come as a surprise because wars targeting civilians have many ways to lethally affect their lives. However, what is surprising is why with over $1.5B committed by Kuwait and other donor countries the UN planned successfully 45 days ago is Typhoid not under control. This excludes the tens of millions of US Dollars already made available to the UN some time ago to help Syrians overcome their miserable existence. UN planners, to include WHO (World Health Organization) officials, must surely know it was a question of time before Typhoid and other diseases will make their debut in war-torn Syria.
When hygiene and sanitation become uncontrollable issues, Typhoid can be prevented through either one of two vaccines licensed for that purpose and both commercially available from Sanofi Pasteur andÂ GlaxoSmithKlinean. According to Reuters, which broke the story, only 2.500 are affected in Deir El-Zour, a region that is accessible to international health workers and officials.
Diseases play an important role in changing the course of history. For example, between 430 and 424Â BC, a devastatingÂ plague, with Typhoid-like symptoms, killed one third of the population ofÂ Athens, including Pericles. After his death, the balance of power shifted from Athens toÂ Sparta, which brought to a halt Pericles Golden Age in ancient Greece. Prior to Syria, an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2004 cost the lives of 42,000 people.
There is much to appreciate about governments, organizations, and people with good intentions towards the Syrian tragedy, but there is also reason for us to raise questions of accountability and competency. This is the time when we must hold UN Officials to the highest standards because if we do not, their incompetency will find a way to bring misery again to those they are supposed to protect the most.