Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cell Phones: Pushing Polio closer to eradication

In the remote parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan where some of the world's last polio cases may be found, mobile phones have found a uniquely useful role in supporting the work of volunteers in the area. Cell phone and messaging services allow volunteers to track their delivered, missed and refused vaccines, and to coordinate means of ensuring vaccine delivery to as wide a range and as many people as possible.

Vaccine delivery in many such parts of these two countries has been complicated, over the years, by infrastructural and other challenges which hinder the progress vaccination teams can make. Not least of these are cultural suspicions with regards to Western-sponsored vaccination campaigns. The use of cell phones to track successful and refused inoculations helps volunteers in that they are able to identify and concentrate their resources on those who might be more wary of vaccination.

With only 54 newly reported polio cases in Pakistan for the whole year of 2015, it is very possible that this new use of cell phones in eradication efforts might yield significant fruit in years soon to come.
-Muzz Shittu

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