I have talked in the past of the ‘Plus’ in the Polio Plus campaign.  Now in time of this global COVID-19 pandemic, we can see how the same health delivery infrastructure developed for the End Polio campaign, is now being put to use in the fight against the pandemic.

In Pakistan:  The polio team is providing assistance across the entire country with a focus on awareness raising and improved surveillance.  They are modifying the existing polio data management system to include data management for COVID-19 as well.  Through cascade training an additional 6,250 health professionals have been sensitized on COVID-19 and the regional polio reference lab in Islamabad has been providing support for COVID-19 testing.  As elsewhere, contact tracing and improved testing in six reference labs are improving their ability to meet increased demands.

The nationally sponsored HELP line routinely use for polio-related calls now caters to the public’s need for information on COVID-19 as well. 

In Afghanistan:   Community polio volunteers are delivering messages on handwashing and distancing.  They also do COVID-19 investigations during their routine visits.  Polio eradication teams continue to work with the Ministry of Public Health, NGOs and other partners to enhance Afghanistan’s preparedness.

In Nigeria:  “In the field, when there is an emergence, WHO’s first call for support to the state governments is the polio personnel,” says Fiona Braka, WHO polio team lead in Nigeria.  The infrastructure exists and can be used for both polio and COVID-19.  We can’t forget the polio initiative in these trying times.  Your donations remain vital and benefit mankind beyond just polio eradication efforts.  Please give this year.

 

Paul Stromborg, District 6420 Polio Plus Chair