The cold chain The polio vaccine must be kept cool, or it risks losing its effectiveness. The cold chain system — made up of freezers, refrigerators, and cold boxes — was developed to allow polio workers to store the vaccine and transport it over long distances in extremely hot weather. In Pakistan, a measles immunization program now relies on the same system. With the help of the cold chain, Sindh province recently reached its goal of immunizing more than 7.3 million children against measles.
Microplanning A critical component in immunizing more children against polio, especially in remote regions, is microplanning. A microplan allows health workers to identify priority communities, address potential barriers, and develop a plan for a successful immunization campaign. The workers collect as many details as possible about communities to help them reach and vaccinate all of the children, and this strategy has helped keep India polio-free for five years. Now the Mewat district of India is using microplanning to increase its rates of vaccination against measles and rubella.
Surveillance The polio surveillance system helps detect new cases of polio and determines where and how these cases originated. In Borno state in Nigeria, the surveillance system is now being used to find people with symptoms of yellow fever. Surveillance was one of many tactics used during a 2018 yellow fever outbreak that prompted vaccinations of more than 8 million people.
Contact tracing Because polio is a transmittable disease, health workers use contact tracing to learn who has had contact with people who might be infected. Contact tracing was also critical to containing an Ebola outbreak in Nigeria in 2014. When a traveler from Liberia was diagnosed with Ebola, Nigerian officials were able to quickly trace and isolate the traveler’s contacts, helping prevent the disease from spreading further.
Emergency operations centers An important part of the polio infrastructure that Rotary and its partners have built is the emergency operations centers network. These centers provide a centralized location where health workers and government officials can work collaboratively and generate a faster, more effective emergency response. The emergency operations center in Lagos, Nigeria, which was originally set up to address polio, was adapted to handle Ebola, and it ultimately helped the country respond quickly to an Ebola outbreak. Only 19 Ebola cases were reported, and the country was declared Ebola-free within three months.
CELEBRATE WORLD POLIO DAY WITH US Be part of our global celebration of World Polio Day on 24 October. Contact you local Rotary club to join in with their planned events