Outsmarting Polio

by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
May 31, 2016

While a global campaign to vaccinate every child on the globe has reduced incidence of polio by 99 percent, wiping out the disease in the last handful of countries has proven to be the most difficult job. It requires constant vigilance, swift action and strategies that can address everything from conflict and poverty to varying social norms and harsh conditions.

To stamp out polio, health workers have had to travel to remote villages, sometimes risking their lives in politically unstable areas. Some have ridden for hours on motorbikes in 100-degree heat, while others carried the vaccines in canoes across rivers.

Those working to eradicate polio not only have to contend with poor roads and searing temperatures. They also have had to work in isolation without ways to easily share data, best practices, or ideas.

That’s begun to change with the advent of emergency operations centers (EOCs). Developed during the battle against polio in Nigeria, EOCs are centralized management units now in operation in the two remaining polio-endemic countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan. They serve as data centers and hubs where all partners — from national governments to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and health specialists — gather to review the latest developments and strategize, often on a daily basis.

 

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