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How to hunt a virus: 5 ways polio is helping fight Ebola

Sherine Guirguis, Senior Communications Manager for UNICEF’s Global Polio Programme reflects on her recent trip to Sierra Leone to support UNICEF's Ebola efforts.

Featured

"[R]egardless of the setting and causes of vaccine hesitancy, poor communication needs to be addressed generally, in addition to developing targeted communication to address hesitancy and improve vaccine uptake."

This is one of the lessons that emerged from a November 2011 meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (...

"[S]pecific communication challenges make it difficult for the public to perceive the risks of polio among other priorities, and hinder adequate support from governments, social and religious institutions, the media, community leaders and other stakeholders."

This document reports on preliminary findings from polls conducted as part of a global research initiative to understand and respond to parents' views and experiences receiving polio vaccine. As the researchers - who hail from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) as part of a collaboration between the Harvard Opinion Research Program (...

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Research and Strategy

"[R]egardless of the setting and causes of vaccine hesitancy, poor communication needs to be addressed generally, in addition to developing targeted communication to address hesitancy and improve vaccine uptake."

This is one of the lessons that emerged from a November 2011 meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (...

"[S]pecific communication challenges make it difficult for the public to perceive the risks of polio among other priorities, and hinder adequate support from governments, social and religious institutions, the media, community leaders and other stakeholders."

"The humanitarian situation...remains of grave concern and, as the conflict enters its fourth year, insecurity, and violence continue to force the people of Syria to seek safety and protection elsewhere. Disruption of health services and infrastructure, low levels of routine immunisation and prolonged wild poliovirus circulation places the...

This document reports on preliminary findings from polls conducted as part of a global research initiative to understand and respond to parents' views and experiences receiving polio vaccine. As the researchers - who hail from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) as part of a collaboration between the Harvard Opinion Research Program (...

"Following the attacks on polio workers in December 2012 and in 2013, the overall aim of the communications programme has shifted towards positioning polio vaccination so that community, political and religious leaders view OPV as an essential trusted commodity."

From the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan, this report narrates the epidemiological situation with regard to polio, the status of supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs), acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance, and communication activities implemented in 2013 and planned for 2014.

"...Polio program in Afghanistan has identified 6 key intervention areas that will be essential to assure the implementation of strategies [including]:...Communication directed to increased community demand and ownership..."

"To address anti-polio sentiments and violence targeting polio workers early in 2013, the program intensified social and community mobilization activities providing opportunities for community leaders to engage in the response and become advocates for the program's success."

From the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Global Polio Emergency Action Plan (EAP) aims to boost vaccination coverage in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the 3 remaining polio-endemic countries. It builds on India's success in stopping polio transmission and outlines a range of new strategies and initiatives to better support...

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Experiences

Dhibcaha Nolosha (Drops for Life) is a radio show that aims to improve understanding about polio and challenge negative attitudes towards vaccination. Created in response to a polio outbreak in Somalia that started in May 2013 (a country with no outbreaks in the previous 6 years), the 15-minute magazine show is broadcast on the BBC...

"Hundreds of Pakistani labourers have been shown a short film that hopes to show them the importance of polio vaccinations."

Image Nation Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emerites (UAE), developed a film- and radio-based campaign running from June to September 2014 in an effort to create strong awareness about polio and polio vaccination...

"Child health records help ensure every child receives the vaccines they need to live a healthy and productive life. However, many health records are lost or destroyed, not accurately maintained, or are simply too confusing to read."

"[Y]outh's productive engagement in the polio/RI programme will provide it with a source of continued dynamism and productive energy. This is especially so as the Polio Eradication programme is transcending into a crucial phase, as for over three years no wild polio transmission is reported in the country (India), whereas the associated '...

"Public radio show games conducted in local languages for the communities by the communities is the approach likely to promote lasting change and to support communication activities in immunization and polio eradication. Such programmes increase participation, community ownership..." - Bruno Maes, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)...

"On the morning of 8 November, scores of Syrian refugee children at the Omariya informal settlement in east Lebanon held a joyful demonstration amongst the tents in their camp. Accompanied by social worker from the Lebanese NGO [non-governmental organisation] Beyond, they held colourful placards with the word 'polio' in Arabic crossed out,...

As carried out in Nigeria, from early 2007 to mid-2009, IMMUNIZATIONbasics (IMMbasics) worked with government agencies at all levels (Federal, State, and Local Government Area (LGA) levels) and international partners in Bauchi and Sokoto states, with a focus on developing the human and organisational capacity needed to strengthen delivery of...

The NSEWA Project (which is a contraction of North-South-East-West Africa) is working to close the gap between health services and road safety through specially designed driver safety training and health-related programmes directed at the Road Freight Industry. Led by North Star Alliance and Fleet Forum, the NSEWA training and certificate...

The Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication and their partners in Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are working to intensify cross border social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) interventions with a particular focus on high risk groups such as sexworkers, truckers, and migrant populations. The project involves...

Media's pH (Public Health) Value

This initiative, launched in India by Newslaundry in partnership with Who’s There? Yes (WTY), a global journalism and health mentoring initiative of Chitra Subramaniam Duella and Franklin Apfel, is intended to inspire public debate in India on health issues starting with tobacco control. It was timed for debate during the lead up to the Delhi...

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Publications

"Clearly, this partnership between countries and sharing of expertise and know-how can go a long way to eradicating polio globally."

This online resource includes polio communication resources developed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and CORE, who started working together in India in 2003 as the Social Mobilization Network (SM Net) to provide concentrated support for immunisation in high-risk areas (HRAs) of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Working in 12 districts of UP...

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Communication Reviews

"Public awareness was the key for the success we had - in the schools, the mosques - but now keeping polio-free is more important than becoming polio-free." - Governor of Kandahar, Afghanistan

"I have had the very real privilege of being involved in the Global Polio Eradication initiative (GPEI) for the past 7 or 8 years. My vantage point has been somewhat unique as someone who sits outside the main implementing organisations but has nevertheless had an opportunity to see the programme close up."

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Community Participation

"[S]pecific communication challenges make it difficult for the public to perceive the risks of polio among other priorities, and hinder adequate support from governments, social and religious institutions, the media, community leaders and other stakeholders."

From the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan, this report narrates the epidemiological situation with regard to polio, the status of supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs), acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance, and communication activities implemented in 2013 and planned for 2014.

"...Polio program in Afghanistan has identified 6 key intervention areas that will be essential to assure the implementation of strategies [including]:...Communication directed to increased community demand and ownership..."

"To address anti-polio sentiments and violence targeting polio workers early in 2013, the program intensified social and community mobilization activities providing opportunities for community leaders to engage in the response and become advocates for the program's success."

Author: Sherine Guirguis, January 2 2015 - I'm often asked how the largest-ever public health movement - to end polio - has boosted the world’s ability to fight other deadly infectious diseases.

"Routine immunization creates opportunities to educate parents about the benefits of vaccines and other health services. Engaging the community in planning, financing, and delivering the program can increase equity and build trust in the government's ability to deliver immunizations."

This training manual, from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), has been designed for use in trainings to increase interpersonal communication skills (IPC) and knowledge related to inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) for social mobilisers and frontline health workers. It was developed to facilitate group health education with the help of...

"How can we build health communication and other capacity in disadvantaged settings?"

"What are some of the communication challenges in engaging people on polio immunization issues?"

This is one of the questions asked in this interview of Thomas Abraham, MA, who is affiliated with the Journalism and Media Studies Center (JMSC) at The University of Hong Kong and who is a consultant for the World Health...

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Advocacy

"[S]pecific communication challenges make it difficult for the public to perceive the risks of polio among other priorities, and hinder adequate support from governments, social and religious institutions, the media, community leaders and other stakeholders."

This webpage from the Council on Foreign Relations serves as a resource for communication practitioners and others seeking to understand - and access resources about - the global effort to eradicate polio. Clicking on each of the subheadings in the background brings the reader to information and multiple URLs leading to further data - for...

"Following the attacks on polio workers in December 2012 and in 2013, the overall aim of the communications programme has shifted towards positioning polio vaccination so that community, political and religious leaders view OPV as an essential trusted commodity."

From the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan, this report narrates the epidemiological situation with regard to polio, the status of supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs), acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance, and communication activities implemented in 2013 and planned for 2014.

"...Polio program in Afghanistan has identified 6 key intervention areas that will be essential to assure the implementation of strategies [including]:...Communication directed to increased community demand and ownership..."

"To address anti-polio sentiments and violence targeting polio workers early in 2013, the program intensified social and community mobilization activities providing opportunities for community leaders to engage in the response and become advocates for the program's success."

From the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Global Polio Emergency Action Plan (EAP) aims to boost vaccination coverage in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the 3 remaining polio-endemic countries. It builds on India's success in stopping polio transmission and outlines a range of new strategies and initiatives to better support...

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Nigeria

This document reports on preliminary findings from polls conducted as part of a global research initiative to understand and respond to parents' views and experiences receiving polio vaccine. As the researchers - who hail from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) as part of a collaboration between the Harvard Opinion Research Program (...

This webpage from the Council on Foreign Relations serves as a resource for communication practitioners and others seeking to understand - and access resources about - the global effort to eradicate polio. Clicking on each of the subheadings in the background brings the reader to information and multiple URLs leading to further data - for...

"To address anti-polio sentiments and violence targeting polio workers early in 2013, the program intensified social and community mobilization activities providing opportunities for community leaders to engage in the response and become advocates for the program's success."

From the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Global Polio Emergency Action Plan (EAP) aims to boost vaccination coverage in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the 3 remaining polio-endemic countries. It builds on India's success in stopping polio transmission and outlines a range of new strategies and initiatives to better support...

Author: Sherine Guirguis, January 2 2015 - I'm often asked how the largest-ever public health movement - to end polio - has boosted the world’s ability to fight other deadly infectious diseases.

"The traditional leaders were the most successful in positively influencing the decision to vaccinate."

"It is clear that the level of political commitment, the extent of engagement of regional and local leaders, the quality of public health leadership and management, and the involvement of civil society are totally inadequate. Pakistan puts the entire global goal in jeopardy."

"What are some of the communication challenges in engaging people on polio immunization issues?"

This is one of the questions asked in this interview of Thomas Abraham, MA, who is affiliated with the Journalism and Media Studies Center (JMSC) at The University of Hong Kong and who is a consultant for the World Health...

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Pakistan

This document reports on preliminary findings from polls conducted as part of a global research initiative to understand and respond to parents' views and experiences receiving polio vaccine. As the researchers - who hail from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) as part of a collaboration between the Harvard Opinion Research Program (...

This webpage from the Council on Foreign Relations serves as a resource for communication practitioners and others seeking to understand - and access resources about - the global effort to eradicate polio. Clicking on each of the subheadings in the background brings the reader to information and multiple URLs leading to further data - for...

"Following the attacks on polio workers in December 2012 and in 2013, the overall aim of the communications programme has shifted towards positioning polio vaccination so that community, political and religious leaders view OPV as an essential trusted commodity."

From the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Global Polio Emergency Action Plan (EAP) aims to boost vaccination coverage in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the 3 remaining polio-endemic countries. It builds on India's success in stopping polio transmission and outlines a range of new strategies and initiatives to better support...

"It is clear that the level of political commitment, the extent of engagement of regional and local leaders, the quality of public health leadership and management, and the involvement of civil society are totally inadequate. Pakistan puts the entire global goal in jeopardy."

"What are some of the communication challenges in engaging people on polio immunization issues?"

This is one of the questions asked in this interview of Thomas Abraham, MA, who is affiliated with the Journalism and Media Studies Center (JMSC) at The University of Hong Kong and who is a consultant for the World Health...

Author: Heidi J Larson, PhD, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Dept. Global Health, University of Washington, September 5 2014 - The myriad of challenges contributing to the persisting spread of Ebola in West Africa - the biggest Ebola outbreak since the viral haemorrhagic fever was discovered in 1976 - echo some of the...

"The Technical Advisory Group on Polio Eradication for Pakistan (TAG) conducted a meeting on 2-3 June 2014, during a time when the Pakistan programme is at a 'critical crossroads'....In the four months preceding the meeting, 86% of global polio cases were in Pakistan."

From the World Health Organization (WHO), Regional Office...

"Hundreds of Pakistani labourers have been shown a short film that hopes to show them the importance of polio vaccinations."

Image Nation Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emerites (UAE), developed a film- and radio-based campaign running from June to September 2014 in an effort to create strong awareness about polio and polio vaccination...

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Afghanistan

From the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan, this report narrates the epidemiological situation with regard to polio, the status of supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs), acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance, and communication activities implemented in 2013 and planned for 2014.

"...Polio program in Afghanistan has identified 6 key intervention areas that will be essential to assure the implementation of strategies [including]:...Communication directed to increased community demand and ownership..."

From the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Global Polio Emergency Action Plan (EAP) aims to boost vaccination coverage in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the 3 remaining polio-endemic countries. It builds on India's success in stopping polio transmission and outlines a range of new strategies and initiatives to better support...

"It is clear that the level of political commitment, the extent of engagement of regional and local leaders, the quality of public health leadership and management, and the involvement of civil society are totally inadequate. Pakistan puts the entire global goal in jeopardy."

"As the newly elected government establishes itself, it is critical that the national commitment to achieving polio eradication is maintained at the highest level."

"Eradicating polio requires that millions of parents allow their children to be given dose after dose of polio vaccine. Properly engaging them is key to success."

The above insight is one of those shared in the ninth report following from the tenth meeting of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio...

"Interpreting resistance to vaccination as essentially religio-cultural marginalises an understanding of resistance as the rational and strategic response by households and communities to systematic conditions of inequity and exclusion."

Author, Seye Abimbola, orignally posted October 11 2013, cross-posted March 31 2014:    

"Polio eradication will only be achieved with stronger health systems and bottom-up community engagement, which is likely to require more time and more investment than is currently available in Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan because of their political fragility."

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India

From the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Global Polio Emergency Action Plan (EAP) aims to boost vaccination coverage in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the 3 remaining polio-endemic countries. It builds on India's success in stopping polio transmission and outlines a range of new strategies and initiatives to better support...

This paper describes a cross-sectional study conducted to assess the impact of social mobilisation on families in Aligarh, India who are resistant to giving polio drops to their children. Considering that there is a history of Muslim resistance to the oral polio vaccine (OPV) due to mistrust and rumour, it was deemed significant that the...

"What are some of the communication challenges in engaging people on polio immunization issues?"

This is one of the questions asked in this interview of Thomas Abraham, MA, who is affiliated with the Journalism and Media Studies Center (JMSC) at The University of Hong Kong and who is a consultant for the World Health...

"The usefulness of household visitation as a strategy to improving coverage of routine polio vaccination, one of the four pillars of the global polio eradication strategy, has not been documented previously."

Recognising that strengthening routine immunisation (RI) is one of the 4 prongs of the Global Polio Eradication...

"This report shows how, on a daily basis, eHealth innovations are improving access to care and assisting women to take control of their own health...[T]hrough the use of ICTs, health-care professionals and the women and children they care for, are better able to share important health information as well as communicate amongst themselves...

"The introduction of any new vaccine into routine vaccination programs requires a complex set of activities including: mobilization and leverage of political will and country leadership; advocacy and communications; advanced planning...; broad engagement of stakeholders...; alignment of staff and resources; and, allocation of sufficient and...

"[Polio c]ommunication reviews have established themselves as valuable components of strategic communication planning and there is strong consensus that they need to continue. However, ...there are several areas of improvement that need to be considered..."

"Why is the same vaccine accepted in one part of the world and rejected in another? Heidi Larson tells Fiona Fleck why communicating the benefits versus the risks of vaccination is just part of the battle to gain public confidence in vaccines."

This video from Polio Free India is a slideshow depicting the opening of the "Drops of Dialogue" polio gallery at District Hospital, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh (UP), India created by CORE Group. As can be seen here, the event had the theme: for the children by the children: 1995 to 2014 (as symbolised by children taking part in the event). A...

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