How health workers, communities and organisations are preparing for the polio campaign

Polio outbreak response in the Philippines

Marge Francia
UNICEF staff inspect boxes of polio vaccines
UNICEF Philippines/2019/Vitto Milanes

10 October 2019

How do you vaccinate millions of children against polio? Here’s an inside look at the preparations before children get the vaccine. An army of health workers, local officials, religious leaders, NGO and UN workers, communication and supply experts, and community volunteers come together to ensure that every child is immunized and protected against polio.

Health workers wearing veils/hijab discuss in front of a laptop computer
UNICEF Philippines/2019

Health workers study and plan different aspects of the polio campaign. Here, health workers from Tagoloan municipality in Lanao del Sur fill out planning templates, counting every child in each barangay, and form teams to be deployed to ensure that all children, especially the ones in the most remote areas, are vaccinated.

Government officials and local leaders link their hands to show their support for the polio immunization campaign
UNICEF Philippines/2019

For the health workers to do their work effectively, governors, mayors and other local leaders need to be involved. They provide transportation assistance and other needs, and ensure the safety and security of all health workers. Here, the Vice Governor, Sanggunian and Mayors of Lanao del Sur province testify their commitment to ensure a smooth immunization campaign.

A religious leader gestures with his hand as he speaks to an audience
UNICEF Philippines/2019

Religious leaders, with their influence, have an important role in the campaign. They can deliver sermons to influence mothers, fathers and caregivers to have their children vaccinated. Here, religious leaders in predominantly Muslim Lanao del Sur province come together to plan how to deliver polio messages in their communities.

NGO workers discuss in a circle
UNICEF Philippines/2019

NGO workers come together as a force multiplier. They harness their knowledge of the areas they work in and use their networks to spread the word that vaccinators are coming to their barangays. Here, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs gathers all NGOs to map areas where they work in and how they can help.

A UNICEF staff member inspects boxes of polio vaccines
UNICEF Philippines/2019

UNICEF facilitated the procurement of the polio vaccines. UNICEF is also responsible for the cold chain, the system that keeps the vaccines potent and in the right temperature from the time it is dispatched by the supplier until it is administered to the child. UNICEF, together with Department of Health and the World Health Organization, plan together to ensure that every child in the target areas is vaccinated. 

UNICEF staff visit a health center to assess preparations for the polio immunization campaign
UNICEF Philippines/2019

Readiness of the target areas is assessed. A week before the polio vaccination campaign, UNICEF staff go to different municipalities to speak to health workers and check their preparations. Here, the Tugaya Municipal Health Workers in Lanao del Sur are being interviewed by UNICEF staff.