The Task Force Supports ‘Last Mile’ of Polio Eradication in Pakistan
As Pakistan enters the ‘last mile’ of polio eradication, The Task Force is supporting efforts to ensure all children in the country are immunized against the disease.
With only two cases of polio reported so far in 2017, Pakistan is on the cusp of interrupting transmission of the disease. In recent years, the National Stop Transmission of Polio (N-STOP) program has led nationwide supplementary immunization campaigns. In April, Pakistan launched a polio immunization campaign that aims to reach up to 37 million children.
The Task Force’s TEPHINET program provides logistical support to N-STOP monitoring teams in 52 high-risk areas who go door-to-door to make sure that all children are immunized. In the last six months, N-STOP officers assessed 4,636 children and identified and vaccinated 444 of them who had been missed in prior vaccination campaigns.
“The biggest challenge for N-STOP officers in the field is the unavailability of resources to get to remote areas,” says TEPHINET Director Dionisio Herrera Guibert, MD, PhD. “TEPHINET helps ensure they have the equipment, accommodations, and other resources they need to work in these hard-to-reach communities.”
N-STOP and TEPHINET work together to ensure the quality and effectiveness of immunization campaigns and post-campaign monitoring activities. TEPHINET also provides support for surveillance of new polio cases through N-STOP’s work with eight Emergency Operations Centers and response units around Pakistan.
“TEPHINET’s support to N-STOP is helping create a legacy of capacity within the public sector,” says Khurram Butt, a project manager for TEPHINET. “Even when this project is over, there will still be trained government professionals on the ground ready and able to respond to disease outbreaks.”
TEPHINET’s work in Pakistan is part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative that is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, World Health Organization, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.