During my visit to the Unicef-supported Basic Education School for displaced grade one to four children at the Aleppo University I met a number of confident, upbeat children, not shy to ask tough questions... As a mother, I could not hold back my tears when a young girl got up and asked me: "When will this war end?"
More than six months after confirmation of the first polio case in Syria, Unicef continues to support efforts to tackle the outbreak in all parts of the country. The April nationwide polio round which started this week aims to reach 2.8million children across Syria with a special focus on hard-to-reach children in conflict zones and besieged areas...
For many of us, the threat of contracting polio belongs in the past. We think of black and white photographs showing patients in wheelchairs or lying in an 'iron lung' to help them breathe. But for people in polio's last strongholds, the disease remains as real a threat today as it was 50 years ago.
The various levels of corruption, racketeering, protection bribes, sectarian threats and drone attacks have created a cocktail of intrigue and mistrust amongst the Pakistani citizens at best, and murderous behavior at worst! However, justifiable opposition to these problems cannot and should not ever be used to defend the murder of innocents.
The concept of development, through which governments view social policy in environments where capitalism is the mode of social organization, may be up for a major rethink, globally. This year, policy signals at agenda-setting global convening and major publications seem to be heralding new directions.
For at least 20 of the athletes who competed in the Games in London this year, it is polio which has left them paralysed - a vicious, highly infectious disease that attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis, if not death. It is children under five who are most vulnerable to infection. But it was possible to watch London 2012's Paralympics Games with a great sense of optimism. These Games were historic, not only for the number of competing athletes and sell-out crowds, but also because they may well have been the last Olympics to take place in a world where a child is at risk of paralysis because of polio.
So long as a single child remains infected with polio, the global goal of eradication will not be met. We must also look inwards to put in place critically-needed health system reforms, which will be vital for meeting any development target in Pakistan where social divides are widening at an alarming pace.