The Growing Need to Boost Polio Vaccination Rates in Latin America

by | Oct 17, 2022

It’s been nearly 30 years since polio was eradicated from the Americas, but the Pan American Health Organization is watching the region with renewed interest. The organization recently announced that Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Peru are at a very high risk for the reintroduction of the disease. Argentina, the Bahamas, Ecuador, Panama, Suriname, and Venezuela have also been identified as countries at risk.

Polio vaccination rates in the whole of Latin America have dipped below 80%, likely worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, to their lowest rate since 1994.

To prevent and control the outbreak of polio in Latin America, country-wide vaccination rates need to be addressed. Premise offers a unique tool to help. 

While traditional data collection methods to support immunization activities are typically slow and resource intensive, Premise offers an agile alternative that has already been utilized by several major global health organizations. 

 

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance 

Premise won the INFUSE challenge in 2019 and since then has engaged with Gavi across a number of initiatives designed to bridge gaps in data at several different levels of the vaccine delivery and uptake process. This work has been done at the Secretariat and county levels for both routine childhood immunizations and the global roll out of COVID-19 vaccines.

Beginning in October 2020, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, used Premise to collect data on vaccine demand, barriers to access, and general sentiment towards childhood immunizations from caretakers of children under five years of age in nine different countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. In May 2021, Gavi expanded its work with Premise by collecting  data on perceptions and attitudes towards the COVID-19 vaccine roll out among the general populations of the same countries. 

Both survey tools were created in coordination with the Behavioral and Social Drivers (BeSD) team at the WHO in conjunction with their demand generation framework. Over the course of 14 months, 120,000 responses were collected and the data was shared directly with the EPI programs of the participating countries.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, also used Premise to support COVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization in Côte d’Ivoire. Working with the Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Health and the Côte d’Ivoire Expanded Programme on Immunization, Gavi used Premise to locate vaccination sites, monitor immunization sessions, measure the effectiveness of COVID-19 messaging, and verify and map health facility locations to support COVID-19 vaccine and routine immunization microplanning.

 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 

Premise has worked with a number of teams at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to provide more accurate and up-to-date information on health facility locations, quality of care, vaccination fees, and immunization coverage. 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the BMGF used Premise to identify private sector health facilities that offered routine immunization services, improve the attribute data on such facilities, measure quality of care, and assess immunization coverage in Kinshasa’s informal settlements. Key results included: 

  • 2300 household surveys
  • Immunization session days recorded and monitored at more than 300 health facilities
  • Identification of more than 600 health facilities that were not originally part of official registries 

As part of a larger effort with the BMGF to utilize satellite imagery to create a comprehensive map layer to aid in polio immunization microplanning efforts, Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) used Premise to collect and validate names of newly identified settlements across Bauchi, Niger, and Sokoto states in Nigeria. Visits to 824 settlements by Premise Contributors resulted in 35 health facilities located in unknown settlements; 42 settlements found to be uninhabited; and quality photos of the settlements, providing on-the ground context for planning and delivery of services.

 

MOMENTUM Routine Immunization Transformation and Equity (M-RITE) 

M-Rite is utilizing Premise to understand the drivers of low COVID-19 vaccine demand and uptake in Serbia, Moldova, and North Macedonia and to identify effective strategies to increase vaccination rates. Recurring surveys are helping to identify beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors among priority populations. M-RITE is also conducting intergenerational interviews, where Premise Contributors can opt to interview members of their household over the age of 65 and record their responses.

M-RITE also used Premise in DRC to understand attitudes and sentiment towards COVID-19 vaccines in Kongo Centrale and Haut Katanga—two extremely rural areas—through recurring monthly surveys. Premise was able to leverage on and offline recruitment tactics to grow the Contributor pool to reach a statistically significant threshold of monthly responses as well as gender parity. In May of 2021, the M-RITE team decided to revise the survey tool to include more questions on vaccine status and awareness of mobile vaccine clinics.

M-RITE COVID-19 and Vaccines Trends Dashboard, M-RITE DRC Survey Results Over Time

 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that continued COVID-19 variants, resurgence of diseases once thought eradicated, and growing vaccine hesitancy will dominate the near-term future of global public health. While these developments are unfortunate, Premise offers a unique and continually evolving tech-based solution to push back against them and put global health organizations—from their headquarters to their partner field offices—in a better position to tackle the challenges ahead.

 

About Premise

Premise offers a unique ability to quickly source information from real people on the ground in hard-to-reach places. Over five million people in 138 countries are using the Premise app on their smartphones, enabling our customers to monitor a situation over time and employ a data-driven approach to timely decision-making. To learn more about Premise, watch our tech demo or get in touch with us.