Fighting to end polio in Syria

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After helping bring international attention to an emerging polio epidemic in Syria, Annie Sparrow, M.P.H. ’04, has been working for the past year to help the country’s medical workers learn to diagnose and treat the disease. An Australian-born physician and professor of global health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, Sparrow wrote a series of blog posts for The New York Review of Books in late 2013 raising alarm about the epidemic — and a cover-up by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime — and calling for the United Nations and international aid agencies to take action. The widely read stories helped create a push to launch a vaccination program in Syria that has now reached approximately 1.4 million children.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a Vogue magazine profile posted January 29, 2015, “Dr. Annie Sparrow is a passionate and dedicated professional who is unafraid to speak her mind. She rightly points out that health care is the first casualty of war.”