In early 2018, polio virus was detected in the sewers of Mogadishu, Somalia and the government moved quickly to vaccinate the country's children in order to prevent a potential outbreak. A vaccination campaign targeting more than 726,000 children was launched in the Banadir and Lower and Middle Shabelle regions. The campaign was carried out by some 3,500 staffers and Nafundi assisted by enabling real-time tracking of vaccination coverage using ODK.
Bella Yusuf vaccinates a child against polio. Photo courtesy of WHO Somalia.
In late 2017, before polio virus was detected in the sewers, Nafundi traveled to Hargeisa, Somaliland to participate in a polio outbreak simulation exercise and to help train the team that went on to lead the early 2018 campaign. The trip was part of our ongoing work providing technical support to countries at risk of polio outbreaks. We provide this support in partnership with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and our goal is to ensure that our in-country partners who need mobile data collection have the support they need to collect data quickly, accurately, offline, and at scale.
On the trip, we trained staff on ODK use and shared public resources (ODK Docs, ODK Forum) that are available for further self-training and support. We worked with data managers to digitize case investigation, case validation, and zero dose forms and set up the infrastructure needed to collect and use data from those forms. We also established points of contact through the reporting chain that would prove critical a few months later.
It's rare that a crisis happens immediately after a training, but as the recent campaign in Mogadishu demonstrates, there is an extraordinary group of people defending Somalia against polio outbreaks. We have seen their dedication with our own eyes and we were glad to have the opportunity to support their work.