Where We Work | Program
Lab Sample Transport for Polio Eradication
This emergency 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.
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
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 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).
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.
Polio Lab Sample Transport Program Overview in 15 countries – Program Update, July 2023
A race to eradicate polio: What does logistics have to do with it?
Assessment Tool for Polio Specimen Referral Systems
Polio Lab Sample Transport – Assessment Findings from 15 Countries
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)
- World Health Organization (Africa Region & Country Offices)
- CIDRZ – Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (Zambia)
- UVRI – Uganda Virus Research Institute (Uganda)
- CIHEB – Center for International Health, Education, and Biosecurity (Tanzania)
- CFHI – Centre for Family Health Initiative (Nigeria)
- Project HOPE (Ethiopia)
- IMC – International Medical Corps (Cameroon)
- FHI360 (Guinea)
- Davycas (Niger)
- ASRADD (Chad)
- Access for Humanity (South Sudan)
- Bolloré Logistics (Mozambique)
- SPEED Courier & Logistics (Malawi)
- R4H – Riders for Health (Malawi)
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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