One of the main challenges? Not a shortage of polio vaccine or a lack of funds, but rather the ability to effectively organize and analyze huge amounts of collected data. This, in turn, would allow for effective targeted, localized interventions to get as many children as possible to take the vaccine.
Till recently, Dr. Saumya Anand, who serves as UNICEF’s Polio Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator for Uttar Pradesh, found the task of data-driven planning at the block level nearly impossible. Approximately 500,000 babies are born every month in Uttar Pradesh, continuously swelling the ranks of the 40 million under-fives in the state. Children often receive as many as eleven rounds of oral polio vaccine in a single year. With millions of data records to organize and analyze, there was no efficient method to quickly extract block-level data to devise customized intervention strategies.
Explains Sherine Guirguis, Polio Communication for Development Specialist, UNICEF, “The fight
Enter PolioComms Info. As the need became obvious for a common database platform to give field officers easy access to block-level data, UNICEF officials agreed in 2009 to move forward with plans for a new database built on DevInfo database technology. A year later, as of August 2010, PolioComms Info had already been rolled out to more than 40 district and sub-regional centers in Uttar Pradesh alone, with a similar rollout scheduled shortly for neighboring Bihar.
One of the most useful features of the new software is an online dashboard (see
PolioComms Info online dashboard
Response to the new system from key public health officials has been overwhelmingly positive. According to Anand, "Initially, we were only able to analyze one indicator in a month. But now we no longer face that limitation, as PolioComms Info contains 69 indicators which we can analyze together."
Declares Brijesh K.G. Rao, UNICEF Sub-Regional Coordinator, Moradabad, “This software is a major breakthrough! Profiles can be used as a tool for advocacy in district and divisional meetings. This will help us in program review at the block level, especially for high-risk blocks, as well as help us in finding data gaps and thus reduce our workload.”
With the help of DevInfo, the daunting task of planning how and where to reach the millions of Indian children at risk for polio has become quite a bit more achievable – and along with it, the goal of a polio-free world.
For more information, please contact Sherine Guirguis, Polio Communication for Development Specialist, UNICEF, firstname.lastname@example.org.