Background: Persistent wild poliovirus transmission in Nigeria constitutes a major obstacle to global polio eradication. In August 2012, the Nigerian national polio program implemented a strategy to conduct outreach to underserved communities within the context of the country's polio emergency action plans.
Methods: A standard operating procedure (SOP) for outreach to underserved communities was developed and included in the national guidelines for management of supplemental immunization activities (SIAs). The SOP included the following key elements: (1) community engagement meetings, (2) training of field teams, (3) field work, and (4) acute flaccid paralysis surveillance.
Results: Of the 46,437 settlements visited and enumerated during the outreach activities, 8607 (19%) reported that vaccination teams did not visit their settlements during prior SIAs, and 5112 (11.0%) reported never having been visited by polio vaccination teams. Fifty-two percent of enumerated settlements (23,944) were not found in the existing microplan used for the immediate past SIAs.
Conclusions: During a year of outreach to >45,000 scattered, nomadic, and border settlements, approximately 1 in 5 identified were missed in the immediately preceding SIAs. These missed settlements housed a large number of previously unvaccinated children and potentially served as reservoirs for persistent wild poliovirus transmission in Nigeria.
Keywords: eradication; nomad; polio; settlement; underserved populations; wild poliovirus.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 2014. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.