Since 2012, eHA has worked with the Nigerian Government, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and other partners to stop the transmission of the poliovirus and completely eradicate the disease from Nigeria. So far this year, Nigeria has seen zero new cases of paralytic polio, with the last case declared in Nigeria on 24 July 2014. This is significant for Nigeria, which was one of only three countries in 2015 still considered endemic. In Africa as a whole, the entire continent is now non-endemic for poliovirus.
eHA continues to implement polio projects in Nigeria through Polio Immunization Plus Days (IPDs) that focus on Vaccinator Tracking and an eTallySheet pilot. These ensure all children in Nigeria are polio free.
Vaccinator Tracking and the eTallySheet Project
In the Vaccinator Tracking program, eHA equips field vaccinator teams with GPS-enabled phones which are carried throughout the course of IPDs. The phones pick up and track the geographic coordinates of the settlement locations visited. Tracked coordinates are then uploaded by eHA staff into a custom Vaccination Tracking System (VTS) dashboard that state health administrators and partners can access during daily campaign review meetings. These meetings happen at local government and state levels with the purpose of monitoring field vaccinator team movements, discussing the percentage of geo-coverage achieved that day, and ensuring settlements missed by vaccinator teams are targeted during the fifth and final day of the campaign (known as a “mop up” day).
The eTallySheet (eTS) project is funded by the World Health Organization and the Gates Foundation and provides a digital method of gathering immunization information during polio vaccination campaigns. Benefits include the timely digital submission of data and validation of population estimates (specifically for children under five) in areas known for poor enumeration data, high growth populations, and migratory populations. eHA also provides GPS-enabled phones with Open Data Kit collection forms to locally recruited eTS supervisors. These supervisors follow house-to-house vaccinator teams during IPD campaigns, and record important vaccination data per household visited.
March 2016 Immunization Plus Days
The March IPD campaign took place from March 19-22. While eHA staff usually support vaccinator tracking in the Northern Nigeria region, this campaign involved project field officers being deployed to 10 southern states (Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti and Delta). They carried out vaccinator tracking activities and eTS implementation across 60 wards in 26 Local Government Areas (LGAs). A total of 63 eHA field officers were deployed to train, supervise and monitor 279 locally-recruited eTS team supervisors.
The field teams encountered unique experiences and challenges during this IPD round due to their deployment to new states with unfamiliar terrains and infrastructure. Many ward destinations were a long distance from the campaign take-off points (up to five hours travel time), so some teams were unable to get back in time for day-of uploading of collected data. In some LGAs, teams were delayed while resolving issues with local governments, resulting in long days. Awareness of security challenges required practical strategies to keep the campaign moving forward efficiently.
The eHA team saw great enthusiasm and excitement from local health workers regarding vaccinator tracking. Locally-recruited eTS supervisors were fully engaged in the eTS application training and mastered it quickly. In Northern Nigeria, house-to-house vaccinations were the main focus, however in Southern Nigeria, vaccinations were administered at churches, markets, and mosques.
A Successful Campaign
In the end eHA field officers successfully conducted the vaccinator tracking and eTS implementation exercises for the March IPD campaign. We look forward to the next IPD campaign May and remain committed to supporting the Nigerian government to achieve it’s goal of receiving the World Health Organization’s polio-free certification by 2017.