Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

Our Global Voices

Raising our voices to improve health around the world.

Selected Category: polio

Get to know a STOPper

Categories: immunization, polio


In honor of World Polio Day, the polio communications team sat down with the lead of the CDC Global Immunization Division’s STOP team Yinka Kerr for a little Q & A.

Yinka Kerr, MSPH, STOP Team Lead, Global Immunization Division

Yinka Kerr, MSPH, STOP Team Lead, Global Immunization Division

Q: Yinka, how did you become involved in the global initiative to end polio?

Yinka: I started in polio in 1997 when I did a 6-month rotation as part of my Public Health Prevention Service training program. My supervisors were Bob Keegan and Denise Johnson, who were amazing mentors. I had a taste of what it would be like working in a global health position through being part of an immunization program review in China and writing a financial report in Zimbabwe for the Africa Region of the World Health Organization.

I was on the second Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) team in 1999, where I was stationed in Nepal for 3 months. When I finished my training with the Public Health Prevention Service in 2000, CDC’s polio program was the first place that I came to look for a job and I have been with the Global Immunization Division ever since.STOP 2 Training Nepal Yinka for blog

Q: What parts of your experience as a STOP volunteer in Nepal remain the most memorable?

Yinka: I worked with Dr. Choudhury, the national surveillance officer, responsible for tracking polio throughout the eastern region. We were based in Biratnagar and would travel up to where the roads ended to talk to health care volunteers, community workers, private doctors and hospital staff about checking for cases of paralysis to test for polio. I remember thinking that this was an amazing program that brings all people together to work towards one goal—ridding the world of polio. It did not matter that I could not speak their language; just bringing the message that we were all working towards this common goal was unforgettable.

One time we went to check on a paralyzed child that the hospital told us had returned to the village. We headed off to the village in the pouring rain. We crossed through a large creek and arrived in the village where the child was, only to be told that the child had gone across the border to seek health care. We turned around and started home only to get stuck in the rising creek coming back across the river. Luckily, I had some cookies and water that I always kept in the car for food emergencies. We sent a villager who was passing by us on a bicycle back to the village to get a tractor and some villagers who helped to get us out of the mud. Thanks to all, we made it home later that night. These have been and will be the trials and tribulations of everyone who is working to find that last case of polio.Stuck in the mud for blog

Q: What is your favorite part of leading CDC’s STOP Team?

Yinka: I like the depth and breadth of activities that I do as STOP team lead in order to recruit, train, and deploy the STOP teams. The passion the STOP staff and CDC colleagues instill in people during the training is amazing. Our teams are deployed with expertise in their minds and passion in their hearts. Being a part of it is truly an honor.

Did you enjoy this blog? Share it on Twitter!

Polio Eradication, Microplanning and GIS

Categories: child health, immunization, polio

A Bugagi child travels by camel near Lake Chad in Borno State, Nigeria. Photo courtesy of Thomas Moran/WHO.

A Bugagi child travels by camel near Lake Chad in Borno State, Nigeria. Photo courtesy of Thomas Moran/WHO.

Victoria Gammino, PhD, MPH, Epidemiologist, CDC Global Immunization Division

Victoria Gammino, PhD, MPH, Epidemiologist, CDC Global Immunization Division

Geospatial data have been used in public health since John Snow mapped cholera cases around the Broad Street water pump during the London cholera epidemic of 1854.  And, while global positioning system technologies (GPS) are so ubiquitous in the United States that virtually all new smartphones, tablets and cars have this technology embedded, in many areas of the world, health care workers in the field are often without the most basic two-dimensional paper maps.

So what do maps and map literacy have to do with polio?  Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. Therefore, the strategy to eradicate polio is based on preventing infection by immunizing every child to stop transmission of the virus that causes polio, and ultimately make the world polio free.   The four pillars of polio eradication all rely on “microplans”— detailed logistical blueprints that guide the planning and implementation of vaccination campaigns, routine immunization outreach, and surveillance for polio cases by providing critical data on the size and location of the target population in a given geographic area.  These target population numbers determine the amount of vaccine required, the number of health care workers and supervisors to deliver the vaccine, and the cost of transportation to get the vaccine and health care workers where they need to go.

How Nigeria Is Helping Stop Polio for Good

Categories: child health, immunization, polio


This blog was originally posted in the Huffington Post on January 2, 2014.


CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

There are three places in the world where wild poliovirus has never stopped killing and disabling children: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

As with other health threats, polio doesn’t stay neatly within a country’s borders. In the case of Nigeria, polio has spread from there to 25 polio-free countries in the past 10 years.

The Nigerian government recognizes this as a public health threat that can be tackled. Last year they put a national emergency action plan in place to eradicate polio and activated an emergency operations center for the work.

The Nigerian plan includes improving immunization activities, outreach to underserved populations, special approaches in security-compromised areas, outbreak response, and improved routine immunization and disease tracking.

In December I had the chance to visit Nigeria and observe firsthand the progress they’re making.

What I saw was impressive. Here are a few highlights from the trip:

Every Last Child: Reflections on World Polio Day in Nigeria

Categories: child health, immunization, infectious disease, polio

Photo of Maimuna Umar, 35, a Volunteer Community Mobilizer in Nigeria

Maimuna Umar, 35, a Volunteer Community Mobilizer with her pictorial flipbook, is trying to convince the community of the importance of polio immunization and other key household practices. Credit: UNICEF Nigeria/2012/Andriamasinoro

October 24th is World Polio Day, a global health observance for the global polio eradication community to renew its promise of a polio-free world to future generations. World Polio Day is held on the birthday of Dr. Jonas Salk, the man who led the first team to develop a vaccine against polio. The development of the polio vaccine reduced polio worldwide by 99% with only Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan as the remaining polio endemic countries in 2013. In the spirit of World Polio Day, polio eradication program epidemiologist Wick Warren describes his work over the past year in Nigeria.

‘Every last child’ – this is one of the long-running slogans and ideals of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). The Initiative began in 1988, and while incredible progress has been made, (13 million cases of paralytic polio and more than 500,000 deaths prevented in 25 years), the fact that polio has not yet been eradicated proves that we are still not reaching every last child.

CDC and Rotarians Celebrate Partnership and the Promise of Polio Eradication

Categories: child health, immunization, polio

Author: Nikki Grimsley, CHES, health communication specialist, Emergency Risk Communication Branch

Nikki Grimsley, CHES, health communication specialist, CDC Emergency Risk Communication Branch

As part of World Immunization Week activities, April 20 – 26 2013, more than 75 members of Rotary International from Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina visited CDC’s Roybal Campus on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 to celebrate Polio Day.

I had the privilege of accompanying a group of Rotarians as they toured the CDC Museum, polio laboratory, and Emergency Operations Center.  During the event, I spoke with Charlie Augello, a member of the Dunwoody Rotary Club, and his wife Anita, who settled in Atlanta after living all over the East Coast. Mr. Augello remarked, “It has been awakening to visit CDC and meet the talented and dedicated CDC staff who are contributing to global polio eradication efforts. I have a much better appreciation of the work that is being done at CDC and around the world.”

Protect Your World – Get Vaccinated: World Immunization Week 2013

Categories: child health, health systems strengthening, immunization, measles, polio

Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director, Global Immunization Division

Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director, Global Immunization Division

Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a disease that could be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine. Millions more children survive but are left severely disabled. Vaccines have the power not only to save but also transform lives by protecting against disease—giving children a chance to grow up healthy, go to school, and improve their lives. Vaccination campaigns sometimes provide the only contact with health care services that children receive in their early years of life. 

During World Immunization Week, beginning on 20 April, we at CDC and our partners around the globe aim to promote one of the world’s most powerful tools for health – the use of vaccines to protect, or “immunize”, people of all ages against disease. 

Immunization Week initiatives began in the Region of the Americas in 2003. The Week was observed simultaneously in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) six regions for the first time in 2012, with the participation of more than 180 countries, territories and areas. The World Health Assembly endorsed World Immunization Week during its May 2012 meeting, alongside the Global Vaccine Action Plan

China – Ten Years of Public Health Accomplishments – What a World of Difference a Decade Makes

Categories: child health, HIV/AIDS, immunization, polio, women's/maternal health

Dr. Tom FriedenFor more than 30 years, the US CDC has worked with China on public health issues that have benefited people of all nations. Together our nations proved the benefits of folic acid which saved children around the world from birth defects. We are exploring novel approaches to HIV prevention, testing and treatment. We are researching risk factors for cardiovascular disease – one of the world’s leading causes of death. Along with other nations, China and the US are working together on influenza surveillance to better protect the world.

This week, I had an opportunity to discuss these achievements with my colleague Dr. Wang Yu, Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). The US CDC and China CDC Directors meet annually to decide our mutual priorities, explore ways to share what we’ve learned with other nations and expand upon our collaborative successes. This was the tenth anniversary of the US-China CDC Directors meeting that allowed for reflection on a few key 10-year benchmarks.

Putting Nomadic Pastoralists on the Map

Categories: child health, immunization, polio


Photo of Victoria Gammino

Victoria Gammino

The CDC “Nomads Project” was piloted in northern Nigeria in 2011 and brought to scale in 2012 through funding from USAID. The concept is now being piloted by CDC-Kenya in collaboration with CDC’s Global Immunization Division. In addition to bilateral government and NGO partners in Kenya and Nigeria, CDC collaborates with colleagues from WHO, UNICEF, and FAO as part of CDC’s effort to eradicate polio.

Health care systems are designed to meet the needs of the population in the communities where they exist, generally addressing the most urgent health needs, and providing services in a culturally familiar context.  But what if that “community” is a mobile one?  Many of the things we take for granted — continuity of care or even familiarity with the language and customs among health care providers — can vary from region to region.

Our New Blog Kicks Off for World Immunization Week 2012!

Categories: child health, immunization, measles, polio

Dr. Kevin De Cock is Director of the CDC Center for Global Health (CGH).

Dr. Kevin De CockMany voices join in the inspirational stories of global health. Today we begin sharing these stories through a new blog we call “Our Global Voices.” Check in often to hear and share in global health stories  from around the world. We invite you to join the conversation on important global health topics. In this blog you’ll interact with CDC’s global health leaders and staff working to improve health and save lives around the world.

We kick off our blog today with the first ever World Immunization Week, observed April 21-28, 2012. Immunization prevents between 2 and 3 million deaths every year worldwide. World Immunization Week is a global event sponsored by the World Health Organization to underscore the importance of immunization in saving lives and to encourage parents to vaccinate their children.

Let me share three reasons why immunization is so important to protecting children and for improving health for all of us.

Immunization works
If ever the term “breakthrough” applies to public health, it applies to immunization. Through this approach we have witnessed extraordinary progress against a host of infectious diseases that caused incalculable suffering and loss throughout most of human history. Today safe and effective vaccinations spare the lives of countless children, and at the same time protect parents and families. Diseases like diphtheria, pertussis, measles, rubella, and polio once swept through communities. Now, most people in developed countries never encounter anyone who’s had any one of these diseases because immunization works so well at preventing or even eradicating them. Some vaccines, like those against human papilloma virus and hepatitis B virus, for example, prevent later complications such as cancer of the liver and cervix, respectively.

Child receiving measles vaccine. Photo credit: C. McNab/Measles Initiative

Child receiving measles vaccine. Photo credit: C. McNab/Measles Initiative

Immunization is possible
CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are helping countries assure that no fewer than nine out of ten children in every country receive the three-dose diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine by their first birthday. By 2009 coverage reached 82 percent. In January 2012, India marked its first anniversary without a single case of polio.  Successful polio elimination in the world’s second largest country demonstrates, again, that immunization works and immunization is possible.

Immunization is right
The public health tradition upholds the ideal of social justice.  We can attribute the virtual elimination of severe illness and death from childhood diseases in the world’s affluent countries to safe, effective vaccines. Immunization works; its safety and affordability make immunization possible everywhere. But just as measles progress has shown to be fragile in Europe when immunization uptake declines, so it is across much of Africa where weak programs lead to renewed outbreaks and deaths. Measles can then affect unvaccinated individuals and communities in the US. Our commitment to social justice obliges us to recognize that regardless of where they live, children and adults need not suffer from diseases we can and should prevent.  That is the promise and moral obligation of immunization. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #