Dr. Robert Oelrichs of The World Bank’s Health, Nutrition and Prevention Global Practice shared his insights on polio immunization. Dr. Oelrichs has worked extensively with governments in developing countries to strengthen and expand their immunization programs. Polio, which is an endemic disease in developing country population, requires robust and vigilant monitoring by medical staff. Routine immunization, a basic health capacity, is needed to ensure no cases are seen for several years. This is a significant challenge in countries such as Pakistan, where a diverse population with pockets of deep poverty exist. Even with the significant funding by Rotary and others ($5.5B over the past 10 years), implementing polio vaccination continues to be a nagging issue due to strains on the field medical teams and competing requirements of routine immunization for other diseases.
Keys to success with polio immunization are tied to strengthening public health systems and transferring lessons learned to local teams in a sustainable fashion. Channeling funding through organizations such as the Gavi Alliance 2000 and central governments to establish routine, on-going immunization programs will be critical.
Thank you, Dr. Oelrichs for your insights and passion.