Ethiopia’s Tigray region began a measles campaign the first week of January in Mekelle and eight other towns, targeting 767,728 children ages 6-59 months. As of January 20, more than 145,000 children had been vaccinated. However, health partners report that the campaign is facing serious challenges, including a lack of fuel and cash, limited cold chain capacity, and shortages of healthcare workers. U.N. OCHA; United Nations
The U.K.’s recent aid budget cuts decreased its neglected tropical disease funding by $200 million—a drop of 90%—according to the group Uniting to Combat NTDs. This shortfall will cause nearly 72 million people to miss out on MDAs during the six months from October 2021 to April 2022—including 24 million people with lymphatic filariasis, 21 million with river blindness, 22 million with schistosomiasis, and 4 million children with intestinal worm—according to Sightsavers. Devex; United to Combat NTDs
Spotlight on Covid-19 Campaigns
Countries with experienced polio eradication workforces have continued to leverage their expertise–in areas including vaccine logistics, social mobilization, surveillance, training, and data management–for the Covid-19 response, according to WHO. In the WHO Africa region, over 500 polio eradication staff assisted with coronavirus vaccine rollout in 2021: 39% of that workforce reported spending between 20%-50% of their time on Covid-19 vaccination efforts, while another 37% reported dedicating more than 50% of their time. Staff balanced this work with polio campaigns, which resumed after postponements dating to the early stages of the pandemic. Some highlights of the integrated efforts include:
- Nigeria: Cross River state integrated Covid-19 vaccination into its polio campaign structure, reaching parents of children receiving nOPV2 drops to reduce the number of visits families needed to make to health facilities.
- Bangladesh: Polio and measles campaign microplans were used to conduct a successful pilot of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
- South-East Asian Region: Integrated immunization and surveillance networks used their experience of introducing new vaccines, including IPV, to help coordinate effective rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations in different contexts.
- In many countries, the polio workforce has supported collecting data on Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) for Covid-19.
Per WHO, these efforts demonstrate the potential of the polio workforce to continue to support health systems after the transition of polio assets, by leveraging their skills and reach in an integrated manner to advance health priorities, especially in the areas of immunization campaigns, vaccine-preventable disease surveillance and emergency response. WHO; GPEI
Uganda ran a national polio outbreak response campaign January 13-19, reaching 8,265,000 children under age 5 with nOPV drops. Originally a three-day event, the campaign was extended for a further three days due to a lack of vaccine carriers. According to the MoH, there were only 24,000 door-to-door cold chain carriers available for the 80,000 teams deployed to conduct the campaign. The health ministry halted Covid-19 vaccinations as a means of freeing up cold storage equipment, and the polio vaccination teams used a staggered approach to share the carriers.
During the six-day drive, 95% of children were immunized; preliminary data showed Busoga as the best performing region with 484,809 children vaccinated, followed by South Central (450,260 children). 18 districts did not meet the 70% coverage target goal: Arua, Bududa, Bugiri, Bushenyi, Busia, Gomba, Kabarole, Kakumiro, Kampala, Koboko, Masaka, Mbale, Mbarara, Mityana, Mubende, Oyam, Sheema, and Terego. Uganda MoH; The Independent; New Vision
Ghana conducted a reactive yellow fever campaign December 17-21, following an outbreak in the Savanna region. The effort targeted 644,798 people ages 9 months to 60 years in 19 selected districts across seven regions. UNICEF
Pakistan launched its first Sub-National Immunization Days (SNIDs) campaign of 2022 on January 17, targeting 22.4 million children under age 5. Over 150,000 Sehat Muhafiz healthcare workers delivered polio vaccinations house-to-house in 70 districts, including six high-risk districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. UrduPoint
Afghanistan’s first national polio immunization campaign for 2022 took place January 17-20, targeting 9.9 million children under age 5. Previous campaigns in November and December 2021 delivered polio vaccinations to 8.5 million and 8 million children, respectively. In total, 2.6 million high-risk children have received OPV drops for the first time in more than three years. The country has five more polio campaigns planned for 2022. UNICEF
Ethiopia ran an HPV vaccination campaign January 10-22, aiming to reach over 1.8 million 14-year-old girls in nine regions. Vaccines were administered in schools and health facilities for two cohorts: more than 866,000 girls received the first dose of the vaccine, while 970,000 took the second dose, having received the first dose in January 2021. WHO Ethiopia
South Sudan will begin a preventative cholera campaign on January 25 in response to floods that impacted more than 850,000 people last year. Oral cholera vaccine will be administered in 20 counties, beginning with Robkona and the Bentiu Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. Although there have not been confirmed cholera cases in the country, the Ministry of Health identified the following counties as potential hotspots: Awerial, Ayod, Bentiu IDP camp, Duk, Fashoda, Juba, Kapoeta, Kapoeta East, Kapoeta South, Malakal, Malakal IDP camp, Panyijar, Torit, Tonj East, and Yirol East. Radio Tamazuj