Successful polio eradication in Uttar Pradesh, India: the pivotal contribution of the Social Mobilization Network, an NGO/UNICEF collaboration

In by Divina Varghese

ORGANIZATION
Academic Journal: Global Health Science And Practice

YEAR PUBLISHED
2013

DESCRIPTION
In response to low routine immunization coverage and ongoing polio virus circulation in Uttar Pradesh, India, a network of U.S.-based CORE Group member and local nongovernmental organizations partnered with UNICEF, creating the Social Mobilization Network (SMNet). Its goal was to improve access and reduce family and community resistance to vaccination. The partners trained mobilizers from high-risk communities to visit households, promote government-run child immunization services, track children’s immunization history and encourage vaccination of children missing scheduled vaccinations, and mobilize local opinion leaders. Behavior change activities and materials promoted vaccination awareness and safety, household hygiene, sanitation, home diarrheal-disease control, and breastfeeding. Use of routine project data and targeted research findings offered insights into and informed innovative approaches to overcoming community concerns impacting immunization coverage. While the SMNet worked in the highest-risk, poorly served communities, data suggest that the immunization coverage in SMNet communities was often higher than overall coverage in the district. The partners’ organizational and resource differences and complementary technical strengths posed both opportunities and challenges; overcoming them enhanced the partnership’s success and contributions.

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