Where We Work  |  Program

Lab Sample Transport for Polio Eradication

This program started off in early 2022 with standardized national assessments to learn and understand the realities of polio specimen referral systems (SRS) in 15 countries which remain affected by poliovirus or at high risk of polio re-emergence. The aim, via tailored implementation plans co-created with each government and partners, is to improve the speed and quality of polio sample transportation from communities/health facilities to national or international laboratories.

May 21, 2024   |   Podcast

Malawi and Mozambique combat wild poliovirus

Originally posted on Scidev.net.  Season 4, Episode 40 After Africa achieved wild poliovirus-free status in 2020, the region faced a setback with outbreaks recurring in Mozambique and Malawi in 2022. However, a swift global response by countries and health organisations, including large-scale vaccination campaigns...

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Apr 25, 2024   |   Blog Post

Saving Lives by Saving Time: Improving Polio Lab Sample Transport

Originally published in the VillageReach 2023 Annual Impact Report, “Running the Race, Together.”  In a remote village of Pibor County, South Sudan, fear gripped Nram (1) as he observed his child’s weakening legs. Polio, a disease notorious for crippling limbs, loomed large in his...

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Mar 28, 2024   |   Blog Post

Progress through Motion: Enhancing Polio Sample Transport in South Sudan

The battle against polio is a race against time. Prompt diagnosis is critical to halt the disease’s spread and ensure affected children receive necessary care. However, transporting samples from remote areas in South Sudan to the capital Juba, and then to the international laboratory...

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Feb 14, 2024   |   Blog Post

Battling Polio in Uganda: A Conversation with Uganda Virus Research Institute’s James Eliku

Polio, a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease, has seen a significant global decline thanks to concerted efforts like the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). However, vaccine-derived polio outbreaks remain a threat in several African countries, including Uganda. In October 2023, I had the...

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Jan 31, 2024   |   News

Lobby lauds Kenya's efforts in Polio eradication

VillageReach Global Technical Team director Tapiwa Mukwashi said in other countries, they had to train people how to introduce temperature monitoring devices.

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Dec 18, 2023   |   Blog Post

Shaping the Future of African Health Care Systems at CPHIA 2023

Leaders from African governments, the private and civil sectors left November 2023’s 3rd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) galvanized towards self-reliance and creating more resilient health systems, united by an ambition to make this year’s conference theme of “Breaking Barriers: Repositioning...

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Nov 26, 2023   |   Blog Post

A Race Against Time: Behind the Scenes Q&A with Denis Onyodi 

In a fast-paced and ever-moving world, it can be challenging  to find focus. Film is one way to hone in on what matters and what is at stake. Denis Onyodi did just that by capturing the challenges of polio eradication in Mozambique. As director...

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Nov 8, 2023   |   News

African Stories, From African Filmmakers: Solutions Inside Out Season One

We’re thrilled to release the first season of Solutions Inside Out, an inspiring short documentary series about social innovators catalyzing positive change across Africa. This series includes VillageReach’s 72 Hours: A Race to Reduce Polio Lab Sample Transport Times.

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Oct 31, 2023   |   News

72 Hours: A Race to Reduce Polio Lab Sample Transport Times

Amidst a resurgence of the wild polio virus strain, health workers in the Tete province of northern Mozambique work to save lives by improving the efficiency of polio sample transport. See how they’ve reduced the time it takes to move a sample from communities...

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Sep 8, 2023   |   Blog Post

Uniting Against Polio - Kenya’s Lab Sample Transportation Story

In June 2023, Dr. Pius Mutuku and his team were alerted of three patients whose lab samples had tested positive for polio from the Hagadera Refugee camp in Garissa County, Kenya. The samples indicated the presence of a non-wild variant of poliovirus, known as...

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Aug 21, 2023   |   News

Enhancing Healthcare: VillageReach and Tec4med for Better Access and Quality in Underserved Communities

VillageReach is a global health organization specializing in the systems that deliver health products and information to the hardest-to-reach people.

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Jul 10, 2023   |   Blog Post

Dans la quête de l’amélioration du système de transport des échantillons polio en République Démocratique du Congo

Read English version here. Une fois que des cas suspects de poliomyélite sont identifiés dans la communauté, qui se présente par une paralysie brusque des bras ou des jambes, une course contre la montre commence. Emmanuel Amuri est Chef d’Agence de LOGISTIQUExpress, une agence...

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Jun 20, 2023   |   Blog Post

The quest to improve polio specimen transport in the Democratic Republic of Congo

See French version here.  Once suspected cases of poliomyelitis, which presents as sudden paralysis of the arms or legs, are identified in the community, a race against time begins. Emmanuel Amuri is Head of Branch at LOGISTIQUExpress, a company specializing in the transport of...

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Jun 20, 2023   |   Blog Post

CIDRZ helps to improve polio environmental surveillance in Zambia

The recent detection of poliovirus in places where it hasn’t been found for years has demonstrated the need for improved eradication efforts by governments and partners across the globe. Eradicating a disease isn’t easy, particularly in areas with limited capacity for surveillance, early detection,...

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Jun 20, 2023   |   Blog Post

Polio lab sample transport in Malawi: the role of data detectives

For the past year, VillageReach has been working in 14 countries to reduce the time it takes for stool samples from suspected polio cases to reach the lab where they can be tested. The sooner the lab can determine whether an acute flaccid paralysis...

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Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age; however, anyone of any age who is unvaccinated can contract the disease. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented, and vaccines are available.

The goal of this program is to help stop transmission of wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus and prevent outbreaks in non-endemic countries, by contributing to faster detection of the virus and notification of test results. The ultimate goal is polio eradication, as outlined in the new Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) strategy 2022-2026.

This program is currently in progress in: The DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, South Sudan, Niger, Nigeria, Guinea, Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

How It Works

Implementation stage (started July 2022):

    • A coordinated and effective sample transport system:  Coordinating the work of in-country partners, design/deploy/improve system(s) that lead to samples of good quality arriving in a timely manner at in-country or international labs (achieving a reduction in the time it takes for diagnosis).
    • Improved sample tracking, turnaround of test results, and data visibility: Support the creation or enhancement of digital data tools and dashboards for real-time sample tracking and notification of results (achieving faster response to outbreaks).

    Assessment stage (Feb – July 2022):

      • Identified sample transport bottlenecks and other pertinent challenges in each of the focus countries to better understand their root causes.
      • Worked with WHO’s Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) and the Ministries of Health to design tailored solutions to meet the needs identified.
      • Deployed a specialized polio surveillance/lab sample transport assessment tool in 15 countries, followed by tailored implementations.

    Implementation plans co-created with national ministries of health, WHO, and other local partners vary, include solutions such as: the use of private sector transportation and logistics companies, deployment of electronic sample tracking systems, and integration of the polio sample transport system with other existing disease systems.

    Additionally, we hope the solutions employed in various countries will contribute towards more sustainable and integrated disease surveillance systems along with faster and more reliable outbreak detection.


    Presentation  |  2024

    Polio Sample Transport on Demand – ASLM Conference (Dec 2023)

    Presentation  |  2023

    Drones for Health: Speeding up Lab Sample Transport – ASLM Conference (Dec 2023)

    Presentation  |  2023

    Digital Solutions for Efficient Lab Sample Transport – Global Digital Health Forum, Dec 2023

    Presentation  |  2023

    Technology solutions for Lab Sample Transport – ASLM Conference (Dec 2023)

    Presentation  |  2023

    Utilization of Local Private Transporters – CPHIA 2023, Nov 2023

    Presentation  |  2023

    Private Sector Partnerships for Agile Lab Sample Transport Programs – GHSC Summit, Nov 2023

    Presentation  |  2023

    Polio Lab Sample Transport Program Overview in 15 countries – Program Update, July 2023

    Presentation  |  2022

    A race to eradicate polio: What does logistics have to do with it?

    Tool  |  2022

    Assessment Tool for Polio Specimen Referral Systems

    Presentation  |  2022

    Polio Lab Sample Transport – Assessment Findings from 15 Countries

    Program Impact

    Assessments in all 15 countries have been completed, along with national debriefing sessions and the co-creation of costed implementation roadmaps.




    • Ministries of Health in the DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, South Sudan, Niger, Nigeria, Angola, Guinea, Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Ethiopia
    • National Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and 7 Provincial Health Departments (DR Congo)


    • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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