Use of Dedicated Mobile Teams and Polio Volunteer Community Mobilizers to Increase Access to Zero-Dose Oral Poliovirus Vaccine and Routine Childhood Immunizations in Settlements at High Risk for Polio Transmission in Northern Nigeria

J Infect Dis. 2017 Jul 1;216(suppl_1):S267-S272. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiw520.


Background: The Polio Eradication Initiative in Nigeria, which started >20 years ago, faced many challenges, including initial denial, resistance from communities, and prolonged regional safety concerns. These challenges led into the structuring of the response including the development of the National Emergency Action Plan, improved partner coordination and government engagement, and the establishment of a Polio Emergency Operations Centre. Although monthly supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) continued, the targeting of settlements at high risk for polio transmission with routine immunization (RI) and other selected primary healthcare (PHC) services using dedicated mobile teams and volunteer community mobilizers (VCMs) became a key strategy for interrupting polio transmission in the high-risk areas. These efforts could have contributed to the wild poliovirus-free 2-year period between 24 July 2014 and 11 August 2016, when 2 cases of the virus were reported from Borno State, Northern Nigeria.

Methods: A narrative analysis of polio-related program and other official documents was conducted to identify the relevant human resources and their role in the Polio Eradication Initiative and in RI. The data used in the article was obtained from United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization project reports and a draft evaluation report of the dedicated mobile teams approach in Northern Nigeria.

Results: The data from 6 of the states that commenced the provision of polio, RI, and other selected PHC services using the dedicated mobile teams approach in 2014 showed an overall increase in the percentage of children aged 12-23 months in the settlements at high risk for polio transmission with a RI card seen, from 23% to 56%, and an overall increase in fully immunized children aged 12-23 months, from 19% to 55%. The number of newborns given the first dose of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) according to the RI schedule and the number of children given zero-dose OPV with the assistance of the VCMs similarly increased between 2013 and 2015. In 2015, VCMs helped track 167 092 newborns and also linked 156 537 infants aged <1 year to RI services in the 6 states.

Conclusions: The analysis illustrates that polio personnel in Northern Nigeria are used in increasing access to zero-dose OPV, RI, and selected PHC services. The increase in the services generated represented the increasing role of the dedicated mobile teams and polio VCMs in strengthening RI.

Keywords: eradication; immunization; personnel; polio; resources; routine; settlements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Workers / organization & administration*
  • Disease Eradication / methods*
  • Disease Eradication / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / organization & administration*
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Nigeria
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control*
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral / administration & dosage*
  • United Nations
  • Volunteers
  • World Health Organization


  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral