The CORE Group Polio Project's Community Volunteers and Polio Eradication in Ethiopia: Self-Reports of Their Activities, Knowledge, and Contributions

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2019 Oct;101(4_Suppl):45-51. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.18-1000.


In 2001, the CORE Group Polio Project (CGPP) began to support polio eradication initiatives in hard-to-reach pastoralist and semi-pastoralist high-risk border areas of Ethiopia by training and supporting community volunteers (CVs) for immunization promotion and community-based surveillance activities. This article describes the development and current status of the CGPP CV network in Ethiopia. It also reports the results of a 2016 survey of CVs. Community volunteers are selected jointly by the local community, local government officials, and local health facility staff. They work closely with the health extension worker in their area and are responsible for 50-100 households. More than 12,000 CVs have been trained and have reached six million people. They make routine home visits to 1) provide education on vaccine-preventable diseases, 2) promote healthy behaviors, 3) inform parents on how to access immunization services, and 4) report cases of acute flaccid paralysis, neonatal tetanus, and measles as well as births. The 2016 survey of 675 CVs demonstrated that 84.1% had conducted home visits in the previous month to 1) identify and register pregnant mothers and newborns, 2) provide health education, 3) conduct disease surveillance, and 4) search for and register immunization defaulters. Of the CVs, 98.2% reported that their work had led to improvements in the community. Knowledge of CVs about vaccine-preventable diseases was suboptimal. CVs expressed a desire for more training. Community volunteers have made notable contributions to polio eradication efforts in high-risk areas of Ethiopia as well as to immunization promotion and disease control more broadly.

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Disease Eradication / organization & administration*
  • Disease Eradication / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethiopia
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Knowledge
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Self Report / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vaccination
  • Volunteers / statistics & numerical data*