Published On: Thu, Jul 28th, 2016

How Technology is Reaching Pakistan’s Children with the Polio Vaccine

By Ken Banks

Digital-Diversity-BannerIn our February story – Cell Coverage: Reaching Pakistan’s Children with the Polio Vaccine – Aziz Memon wrote about Rotary‘s work to replace traditional paper reporting of polio, maternal and newborn health data in Pakistan with more accurate and timely mobile phone-based reporting. This new program is being implemented almost entirely by female health workers, many working in high-risk areas to ensure every child is protected from polio. Pakistan is one of only two remaining polio-endemic countries, and experts hope to see the last case of the disease there within the next year.

By way of an update, in this latest photo essay Aziz shares some of the latest images of female health workers working on the program in Pakistan.

Digital Diversity is a series of blog posts from kiwanja.net featuring the many ways mobile phones and other appropriate technologies are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives.

Photos courtesy Rotary International/Khaula Jamil

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Above: In Pakistan, health workers traditionally report important polio, maternal and newborn health data using paper reporting. During national polio immunization campaigns, health workers vaccinate every single child in Pakistan under the age of five in just a few days – more than 35 million children.

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Above: Since April 2014, Rotary has been working to replace traditional paper reporting of maternal and newborn health data – including polio immunization data – with SMS (text message) reporting. Data is sent directly from the field using cell phones. Here, Rotary member Tayyuba Gul immunizes a child in a high-risk Afghan neighborhood in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A health worker records the information on her cell phone.

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Above: In high-risk areas in Pakistan, security concerns sometimes prevent health workers from reaching all children with the polio vaccine. Cell phone reporting allows health workers to quickly alert polio partners about missed children, who develop strategies to safely access them with the life-saving vaccine. Here, local police provide protection to health workers going door-to-door immunizing children under the age of five.

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Above: Rotary conducts trainings for Lady Health Workers (LHWs) on cell phone reporting at its Rotary Resource Center in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “I was the only female at the time the program started, and I’ve been involved for the past eight years,” says health worker Malkabalees. Today, Rotary has trained more than 500 LHWs.

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Above: Specific codes are assigned to various maternal, newborn and child health indicators (pregnancies, deliveries, newborn deaths, maternal deaths, etc) and immunization indicators (immunizations administered, refusals, missed children, etc).

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Above: Community midwives and female health workers collect the data, and send it using specific codes to a server through SMS. Government and polio eradication leaders use the data to assess trends and gaps in the program.

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Above: Lady Health Worker Malkabalees teaches a fellow health worker to report a refusal, and enter the reason (e.g. religious, fear, lack of understanding). Rotary and its partners use this data to create strategies to combat refusals, such as involving religious leaders to educate their communities about the importance and safety of the vaccine.

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Above: “There’s a lot of passion in my heart to do something for my country, my community and especially for the children,” says Lady Health Worker Shahida. Here, she learns to use cell phone codes to report polio eradication and maternal and child health data at a Rotary Resource Center in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “I don’t have much knowledge,” says Shahida. “But, when I saw that they were doing so much for our children, I was so happy that I cou phones and appropriate technologies are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives. You can follow him on Twitter @kiwanja

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