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Pakistan and Afghanistan are the last countries fighting polio | The Economist.

[Oct 10th 2020]


Clipboard in one hand and polio drops in the other, Afshaan Shaukat walks her neighbourhood methodically. The dense lanes of houses, workshops and kiosks close to Lahore’s splendid Badshahi mosque are her beat. She knows which family lives behind each gate, how many children they have and often their names, too. Undaunted by the frazzling heat, she spends hours knocking at house after house. Her task is simple, yet exacting: she must administer drops to every young child in the neighbourhood, making sure no one demurs or goes undetected.

Pakistan’s polio-vaccination drive involves a remarkable mass-mobilisation of workers like Ms Shaukat. She and her brother, Humza, make up one of 4,000 door-to-door teams in Lahore alone. Another 1,000 teams hang around waiting to vaccinate children in bazaars and bus stations. Nationwide there are 260,000 vaccinators at work, chasing 40m children.

Despite the pandemic gloom, the world reached a welcome public-health milestone in August when Africa was declared free of wild poliovirus (cases derived from mutations of the weakened version of the virus used in the oral vaccine still crop up in some countries). Thirty years ago some 350,000 people around the world were afflicted by the crippling virus each year; now it survives only in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet in those two countries, despite the efforts of Ms Shaukat, the news is far from good.

An international monitoring board of public-health specialists has declared the programme to stamp out polio in the two countries to be in “dire straits”. The number of cases in Pakistan has risen after a “jaw-dropping slump of performance”. Nationwide cases had fallen to 12 in 2018, only to jump to 147 last year. Across the border in Afghanistan the insurgents of the Taliban have prohibited door-to-door teams in areas they control, leaving many children unvaccinated. On top of that, covid-19 halted vaccination campaigns in both countries for four months. A polio-free world now seems “a distant pinpoint of light”, say the monitors.

The coronavirus has meant that Ms Shaukat has added a face mask and bottle of hand-sanitiser to her kit, but things in Lahore were already on the slide. Pakistan’s cultural capital recorded five cases last year, having been polio-free since 2011. Another two have appeared so far this year. Sewage samples once showed no trace of the virus; now they now detect it everywhere. Complacency had set in, officials admit, letting polio creep back from its strongholds in the cities of Karachi and Quetta and along the border with Afghanistan. What is more, disinformation and conspiracy theories, including the claim that the vaccinators are in fact administering a drug to sterilise children as part of a Western plot to weaken Islam, have spread like wildfire on social media. Last year a health worker and two police guards were killed in a series of attacks on vaccinators around the country and panicked parents rushed thousands of children to hospital for fear the vaccine was poisoning them.

The campaign has six months to sort itself out. Otherwise, the monitors reckon, “the wheels will come off the Pakistan bus.” Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar says an overhaul is already under way. As national polio co-ordinator from 2015 to 2019, he steered the campaign within touching distance of eliminating the bug and has returned to prevent further regression. Politicians, unusually, have united behind the campaign and harmful rumours are being rebutted, says the doctor. While he acknowledges that covid-19 has slowed momentum as medical staff switch their focus, he says he is confident the ground can be made up. Indeed, some officials say the fight against coronavirus has sharpened the public-health service.

India’s example shows that progress can be fast, says Dr Hamid Jafari, the World Health Organisation’s polio-eradication director in the region. That country went from 741 cases in 2009 to 42 the next year and registered its last in 2011. That breakthrough, he says, brings to mind a saying of Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


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Senior Advisor to the CDC Eastern Mediterranean Polio Team in Afghanistan | ReliefWeb.

[Organization: Task Force] [Posted: 8 Oct 2020] [Closing date: 31 Oct 2020]

Background:

TEPHINET Background: Training Programs in Epidemiology & Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) is a global network of field epidemiology training programs (FETPs) founded in June 1997 with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Foundation Merieux. With a secretariat based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, TEPHINET is the only global network of field epidemiology training programs, spanning multiple regional networks, sub-regional programs, and national programs around the world. Overall, TEPHINET comprises 71 programs in more than 100 countries. Currently, there are more than 12,000 FETP graduates around the world. For more information, visit TEPHINET’s website: https://www.tephinet.org

CDC is a core technical partner of the GPEI along with WHO, UNICEF, BMGF, and Rotary International. In Afghanistan the NEOC serves as the coordinating body for polio eradication activities. Along with representatives of the Government of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), the core GPEI technical partners form the Strategic Working Group (SWG) which serves as the Unified Management Body of the NEOC and coordinates to oversee all polio program activities in Afghanistan. CDC does not have an office in Afghanistan, but instead maintains a team of eight national consultants in country, two at the NEOC and six others throughout the polio priority districts in the country (Helmand, Kandahar, Paktika, Nangarhar/Laghman, Kunar/Nuristan, and Balkh/Kunduz). The incumbent will collaborate with the two national CDC polio consultants and other CDC staff on TDY or assigned to Afghanistan permanently to provide technical support to the NEOC on polio activities.

Specific Duties:**

  • Provide technical assistance to GPEI and Government of Afghanistan on the implementation of the National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) which serves as the principle document guiding polio eradication activities in Afghanistan.
  • Support Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) and environmental surveillance activities in Afghanistan, including analysis and reporting of key surveillance indicators.
  • Coordinate and with CDC’s national senior polio consultants, [SK2] on CDC input and support to the polio program.
  • Coordinate with CDC staff in country based at the US Embassy compound on EMRO team and EOC activities.
  • Serve as liaison between CDC consultants who support the MoPH and the GPEI UN partners (WHO, UNICEF).
  • Represent CDC along with the CDC’s national senior polio consultant at polio donor meetings.
  • Maintain awareness of USAID polio and RI activities in country. Liaise with the in-country USAID Health Team on USG polio activities to support a harmonized approach.
  • Maintain awareness of programmatic issues related to polio eradication in the country and advise the CDC EMRO team on technical issues and areas for advocacy and strategic engagement in Afghanistan.
  • Assist with oversight and implementation of CDC led activities including polio and RI technical and research projects in country with GPEI partners and EMPHNET/GHD.
  • Design, implement, and analyze evaluations of supplemental immunization campaigns, routine immunization, and other interventions to increase the uptake of immunization services as needed.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications:

  • 10+ years in international public health including significant time working for or collaborating with the US government, United Nations agencies, and GPEI partners (CDC, WHO, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International)
  • Technical expertise on vaccine preventable diseases, especially polio
  • Experience working on routine immunization and systems strengthening in the Middle East
  • Advanced public health degree, MD or PhD in epidemiology or equivalent preferred
  • Demonstrated skills in diplomacy for engagement with multiple international partners and Ministries of Health to solve complex health issues
  • Experience working in security challenged contexts

TRAVEL: Temporary duty travel(TDY) or assigned to Afghanistan permanently to provide technical support to the NEOC on polio activities.

How to apply.

For any clarification related to this position, please contact Lisandro Torre, at ltorre@taskforce.org

How to apply.

Submit application materials and/or any questions you may have to Lisandro Torre, Project Manager, at ltorre@taskforce.org

What to submit.

  • Background/qualifications (CV, organizational profile; relevant portfolio samples)
  • Cover Letter including summary of work experience

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until appropriate consultant is hired.


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Ghana: Polio vaccine is free, avail children for vaccination - Health Director advises | GhanaWeb.

[10 October 2020]

The GHS is embarking on a nationwide vaccination exercise from October 8-11, 2020.
The GHS is embarking on a nationwide vaccination exercise from October 8-11, 2020.

Mr Kwadwo Owusu Ansah, the Director of Health Service in the Asene Manso Akroso District has stated that, "polio vaccine is not infected with corona virus" and called on parents to avail their children for the exercise to protect them against contracting the polio disease.

He said, the form of identification for the polio vaccination teams can be noticed through the vaccine carriers or containers, the health service apron and the tag they wear and also parents can report to officials at nearby health facilities, if they find anything unusual among members undertaking the vaccination exercise for immediate action.

He cleared the issue of concern raised by parents at a micro-planning meeting on polio vaccination and vitamin A supplementation held at Akroso in the district.

Polio is a highly infectious viral illness and disabling disease that largely affects children under 15 years of age.

Mr Owusu Ansah said, the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) is undertaking the mass polio vaccination and vitamin A supplement campaign for target children under five years from October 8-11, 2020.

He noted that, the mass exercise was a response activity to the outbreak of polio detected by the service in a number of children and also to complement the routine vaccination activities.

Mr. Stephen Boakye the Officer at the Disease Control Unit in the district said, symptoms for polio include; headache, fever, pain or stiffness in the arms or legs and fatigue.

The preventive measures he said, were; avoidance of open defecation, improved hygienic practices and sanitation, provision of clean water, and immunisation.


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Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication — Afghanistan, January 2019–July 2020 | Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

[Open Access] [October 9, 2020]

Summary.

What is already known about this topic?

Wild poliovirus circulation continues in Afghanistan.

What is added by this report?

After approximately 2 years of campaign bans by the insurgency coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, wild poliovirus circulation has increased during 2019–2020, and a new vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 outbreak began in 2020.

What are the implications for public health practice?

Polio vaccination must be incorporated more broadly into public health services in order to reach every child. New partners should be engaged in discussions with local leaders to facilitate the recommencement of nationwide house-to-house campaigns.


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Sudan Situation Report, 8 Oct 2020 [EN/AR] | ReliefWeb.

[Situation Report] [Source: OCHA] [Posted: 8 Oct 2020] [Originally Published: 8 Oct2020]

HIGHLIGHTS.

  • Rains started to subside and flood waters are receding in Sudan, after months of heavy rainfall that left more than 875,000 people affected by unprecedented flooding.

  • Over 10 million people are now at risk of contracting water-borne diseases and 4.5 million are exposed to vector-borne diseases, a 100 per cent more than in April 2020.

  • Meanwhile, a surging inflation is leading to increased humanitarian needs in Sudan and hampering humanitarian assistance when millions of vulnerable people need it the most.

  • COVID-19 transmissions continue and new cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus have been reported. Around 10 million doses of polio vaccine arrived in Khartoum.

  • Humanitarians are responding, but the extremely low funding, especially for health and water, hygiene and sanitation services are hampering aid organizations’ capacity to operate.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE.

Floods in Sudan - Situation Report.

HIGHLIGHTS.

  • Rains started to subside and flood waters are receding in Sudan, after months of heavy rainfall that left more than 875,000 people affected by unprecedented flooding.

  • Torrential downpours, landslides, flash and riverine flooding have killed over 150 people and left a path of destruction in all states across the country, according to the Government's Humanitarian Aid Commission data.

  • More than 30 per cent of the water samples analyzed across 13 states were contaminated and the extensive damage to hundreds of water sources, the collapse of several thousands of latrines increase the likelihood of disease outbreaks.

  • Over 10 million people are now at risk of contracting water-borne diseases, and more than 4.5 million are exposed to vector-borne diseases, an increase of nearly 100 per cent if compared with April 2020.

  • Malaria cases have increased in seven localities of North Darfur and different parts of Sennar State. West Darfur reported nearly 100 cases of chikungunya, and hundreds of cases of viral haemorrhagic fever have been reported in Northern, River Nile, Kassala, Khartoum, Sennar and West Kordofan states.

  • Humanitarians are in a race against time to respond to the crisis and save lives, but the extremely low funding, especially for health and water, hygiene and sanitation services are hampering aid organizations’ capacity to operate.

SITUATION OVERVIEW.

Flood waters started to recede in most of Sudan, following several weeks of torrential downpours that have caused deaths, displacement, and massive destructions to key infrastructure and livelihoods across the country.

As of 6 October, 155 people lost their lives and the number of people critically affected reached over 875,000, according to the Government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission. At least 150,000 refugees and internally displaced people are among those affected, according to UNHCR.

More than 82,500 houses have been completely destroyed and there are reports of nearly 92,600 houses damaged, generating dire and urgent need for shelter and household supplies. Several farms are flooded, especially in riverine areas along the White Nile, Blue Nile and Nile rivers, according to WFP, in a country where 9.6 million people are facing severe hunger.

Over 560 schools are damaged and another 60 are being used as shelter by displaced people. This could further compromise the starting of the academic year, already postponed from September to the end of November, due to challenges with resources to adapt the fragile education system to minimize the risks of COVID-19. Access to clean water and health services, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been compromised. Thousands of health centres are damaged or non-functional, around 30,000 latrines collapsed and the break of the Bout Earth Dam in Blue Nile State, on 29 July, risks compromising access to water for over 100,000 people, including IDPs and refugees, who rely on it as their primary source of water. The extensive level of damages increase the challenges to prevent and treat possible disease outbreaks. Malaria, dengue and cholera are endemic in several parts of Sudan, and the risk of these and other water-borne and vector-borne disease increases with the floods and stagnant water. The flooding also brings protection concerns, especially amongst children, women, and displaced people. Families who lost everything can be forced to rely on negative coping strategies to survive, including child labour that is already being reported, according to humanitarian partners. The lack of education services poses children at higher risk of exploitation, and the extra burden on affected families also increases cases of violence against women and girls. People living with disabilities or chronic diseases, elderly, pregnant and lactating women also need specific services that are now compromised by the destruction of facilities and reduced services.

The Government and aid organizations are closely monitoring the situation and providing life-saving assistance to people affected. Humanitarians reached over 400,000 people with critical support. But the stock is being depleted rapidly and more support, including from donors, is urgently needed. The Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2020, which seeks US$1.6 billion, is less than 46 per cent funded.


Download document (PDF | 8.91 MB | English version)



Download document (PDF | 7.6 MB | Arabic version)


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Pakistan: Week long special polio vaccination campaign to commence from October 26 | The Nation.

[October 09, 2020]

NAWABSHAH - As many as 3,32,637 children up to the age of five would be immunised against polio during the 7-day special polio vaccination campaign commencing from October 26 to Nov 01, 2020. 

Chairing a meeting of the District Polio Eradication Committee held on Thursday to review the arrangements for the polio campaign, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Abrar Ahmed Jaffar called for adopting all possible steps to vaccinate every child up to the age of five years throughout the district. Heavy responsibility lies on the shoulders of Polio teams to work with dedication and sincerely to protect children from lifelong disability, he said and directed all related departments to fully cooperate with the health department in this regard. 

He directed officials of local government, police, revenue and other concerned departments to attend the meetings convened to chalk out arrangements regarding anti-polio campaign at union council, tehsil and district level while in case of absence from the meetings, the staff and officials would face strict legal action.  The DC insisted on the training of polio teams, preparing better micro-plan and maintaining a cool chain of vaccines in order to ensure universal coverage of children. 

Briefing the meeting, District Health Officer (DHO) Shaheed Benazirabad Dr Yar Ali Jamali and focal person for polio Dr Allah Bux Rajpar said that 3,32,637 children of up to the age of five years would be administered polio drops and for the purpose 8,089 mobile teams, 70 fix teams, 52 transit and 19 SMT teams were formed while micro-plan had been prepared and training of teams had started. 

The meeting of District Polio Eradication Committee was attended by Regional Coordinator World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Alam Azad, Technical Officer WHO Dr Waseem Mahar, Additional District Health Officer Dr Daulat Jamali, Population Welfare Officer Riaz Ahmed Shar, assistant commissioners of all tehsils of district SBA, officials of police, health and other concerned departments.


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Polio this week as of 07 October 2020 | ReliefWeb.

[News and Press Release] [Source: GPEI] [Posted: 9 Oct2020] [Originally Published: 7 Oct 2020] [Origin: View original]

  • From 30 August to 3 September, Somalia conducted an integrated measles and polio campaign in the Banadir region -- the first immunization campaign held since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Somalia. Take a look at our latest photo story detailing the campaign.

  • In preparation for Sudan's National Polio Campaign, 10 million doses of polio vaccines arrived on Thursday October 1st at Khartoum international Airport. Planned for October, the campaign will immunize 8.6 million children under the age of five.

  • On 19 September 2019, a polio outbreak was declared in the Philippines after a 3-year-old child and several environmental samples tested positive for polioviruses. Fifteen other children have been paralyzed by polio since the outbreak started. To protect children from lifelong paralysis due to polio, vaccination rounds have been conducted in parts of the country. Meet the #HeroesEndingPoliowho have been working to combat polio in the Philippines.

  • Summary of new WPV and cVDPV viruses this week (AFP cases and ES positives): - Afghanistan: Four WPV1 cases, eight cVDPV2 cases and two cVDPV2 positive environmental samples - Pakistan: 14 WPV1 positive environmental samples and 10 cVDPV2 positive environmental samples - Burkina Faso: six cVDPV2 cases - Chad: three cVDPV2 cases - Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo): one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample - Egypt: one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample - Somalia: three cVDPV2 positive environmental samples


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