Jordan | News | Keeping up the fight against polio: maintaining population immunity in Jordan


Keeping up the fight against polio: maintaining population immunity in Jordan

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19 April 2016 – The Ministry of Health of Jordan with the support of WHO, UNICEF and partners, recently completed a mass immunization campaign against polio, reaching more than one million children under 5 across the country with oral polio vaccine (OPV). The nationwide immunization drive was the country’s sixth since polio’s return to the Region in 2013, and comes as part of efforts to maintain and strengthen population immunity, until the poliovirus is eradicated globally. 

“We are in reach of eradication, but the battle is not yet won. With wild polio continuing to circulate in endemic Pakistan and Afghanistan, countries in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region, particularly those in the Middle East, remain at risk of importation and outbreaks,” said Chris Maher, manager of WHO’s regional polio eradication programme based in Amman. 

“WHO and its partners continue to work closely with the Government of Jordan and governments in the Region to strengthen and maintain immunity levels against polio, and to enhance surveillance systems to detect the virus. Until transmission is stopped for good, countries must keep up their guard. This is no time for complacency,” he added.

The campaign lasted 5 days and placed a special focus on reaching communities in high-risk areas of the country.

“Reaching all children with the vaccine is the only way to effectively block out the poliovirus,” said Dr Osama Mere, WHO polio technical officer. “An extra effort was made to reach communities living in remote areas, particularly nomadic groups and families living in informal settlements. This called for detailed campaign micro-planning down to the household level, and a combination of approaches involving both fixed and mobile vaccination teams,” he added.

Throughout the immunization drive, monitoring teams comprising Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF staff conducted visits to inspect cold chain vaccine storage and to supervise vaccine administration. The teams also travelled to high-risk areas to ensure communities were being reached. 

“We are very pleased with Jordan’s campaign preparation, execution and performance,” said Dr Mere. “We hope this level of scrutiny and care is maintained in campaigns going forward, until there is no longer a need for them,” he added.

The next step for the Jordan’s polio programme is the national switch from trivalent to bivalent OPV on 23 April, which will take place in synchronization with global plans.

Photo gallery 

Children in a Jerash health centre have their fingers marked for vaccination verification purposes after receiving two drops of oral polio vaccine. Photos: WHO/J.Swan
Children in a Jerash health centre have their fingers marked for vaccination verification purposes after receiving two drops of oral polio vaccine. Photos: WHO/J.Swan
Child in Jerash receives vaccine in a health clinic
WHO’s Dr Osama Mere vaccinating a child in a high-risk area during a mobile clinic visit
An 11-day old baby gets his finger marked after receiving OPV
WHO technical officer and a Jerash Directorate of Health official check health centre refrigerator temperature records.
For optimal efficacy, OPV must be stored between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius
Children of a nomadic family in a high-risk area outside Jerash. Polio vaccinators reached the family’s under-5-year-old in the campaign. A mark on the boy’s ‘pinky’ finger, made with a semi-permanent marker, indicates that he was recently vaccinated
Children of a nomadic family in a high-risk area outside Jerash. Polio vaccinators reached the family’s under-5-year-old in the campaign. A mark on the boy’s ‘pinky’ finger, made with a semi-permanent marker, indicates that he was recently vaccinated
When travelling to communities to administer OPV, vaccination teams use cool boxes to store the vaccine. WHO speaks to a nurse in a health centre about vaccine storage procedures
Checking micro-plans to verify households are included in the maps
Children in a Ramtha health facility receiving OPV
Children in a Ramtha health facility receiving OPV
The monitoring team visits Pakistani families living in a high-risk area of Ramtha
Checking the fingers of children in a high-risk area
Checking the fingers of children in a high-risk area

Children in a Jerash health centre have their fingers marked for vaccination verification purposes after receiving two drops of oral polio vaccine.
Photos: WHO/J.Swan


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Polio Eradication Initiative

Key health-related statistics

Total population in thousands 10 053
Total expenditure on health (% of general government expenditure) 13.7
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) 58
Primary health care units and centres (per 10 000 population) 6.9
Life expectancy 74.3

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

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