To stamp out polio across the world, health workers have had to travel to remote villages, sometimes risking their lives in politically unstable areas. Some have ridden for hours on motorbikes in 100-degree heat, while others carried the vaccines in canoes across rivers.
Those working to eradicate polio not only have to contend with poor roads and searing temperatures. They also have had to work in isolation without ways to easily share data, best practices, or ideas.
That’s begun to change with the advent of emergency operations centers (EOCs). Developed during the battle against polio in Nigeria, EOCs are centralized management units now in operation in the two remaining polio-endemic countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan. They serve as data centers and hubs where all partners — from national governments to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and health specialists — gather to review the latest developments and strategize, often on a daily basis.
The EOCs have provided the infrastructure, technology, accountability and coordination needed to help deliver success, sending incidence of the disease plummeting, and putting polio on the brink of being wiped from the planet.
This strategic approach using EOC’s were established with the support of the Gates Foundation in 2012. EOCs were established, loosely on plans in place at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor and coordinate emergency responses to public health threats in the U.S. and elsewhere.
With Gates Foundation funding, modern structures were renovated and furniture was brought in, as well as high-quality printers and TV monitors that could display data. Local telecommunications companies brought fiber-optic Internet connections for videoconferencing and other services to the region. Satellite technology enabled detailed mapping of the region so that teams did not miss even the smallest, most remote settlement.
The foundation helped bring an efficiency into the program. There was enforced accountability and bringing in a lot of new tools. There was a lot of granular data analysis, looking at issues and deploying resources to areas that needed focus.
Taking an analytic and logical approach to global health challenges with this business tooled mind set is what sets this Foundation apart for mine together with its focus on accountability and outcomes. This logic driven results orientated outcomes approach is one of the factors that attracts me to support this foundation.