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.

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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Mar 17, 2023   |   Blog Post

Polio Eradication: A Possible Dream – A story from Mozambique (English & Portuguese)

Polio is an incurable disease that can lead to life-long paralysis in unvaccinated children, and even one confirmed case means that the virus may be quietly spreading in communities. Over the last year, Mozambique and Malawi declared a national health emergency to contain polio...

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Feb 21, 2023   |   News

Leveraging Civil Society Contributions to Polio Transition and Integration

According to the United Nations, a civil society organization (CSO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national, or international level. CSOs have a vital role to play in the control of infectious diseases. Some CSOs play an advocacy...

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Nov 16, 2022   |   News

The Drum Beat 817 - Social Listening: Polio, Immunisation, and Vaccines

Social listening in the context of vaccination entails mechanisms put in place to understand the information needs of people, their concerns, and the knowledge gaps they have in relation to vaccines – that is, social data. It also supports the tracking and response to...

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Oct 24, 2022   |   Blog Post

How an Unexpected Polio Case Revived an Urgent Eradication Mission: A Polio Sample Transport Program Q&A

At the 29th Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Poliomyelitis Eradication meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi in June 2022, representatives of the Malawi Ministry of Health and of ARCC recalled the shocking news they had received from the NICD laboratory in Johannesburg back in February:...

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Oct 17, 2022   |   News

Wild polio returns to Africa: How the GPEI is helping stop an outbreak from becoming an inferno

In February 2022, a year and a half after the continent was declared indigenous wild poliovirus-free, the virus resurfaced in south-eastern Africa. As the Global Polio Eradication Initiative kicks off pledging to fund the 2022-2026 strategy, VaccinesWork dives into what exactly happened in Malawi...

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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.

People inspecting drone in field.

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.


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

Related Global Impact

See the latest updates from our work to improve access to quality healthcare in the world’s most underserved communities.

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Let’s Talk About Vaccines! Global

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Bate Papo Vacina! (Let’s Talk About Vaccines)

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