Achieving polio eradication: A review of health communication evidence and lessons learned in India and Pakistan

School of Media Arts and Studies, Ohio University, Athens, OH, United States of America.
Bulletin of the World Health Organisation (Impact Factor: 5.09). 09/2009; 87(8):624-30. DOI: 10.2471/BLT.08.060863
Source: PubMed


Since 1988, the world has come very close to eradicating polio through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, in which communication interventions have played a consistently central role. Mass media and information dissemination approaches used in immunization efforts worldwide have contributed to this success. However, reaching the hardest-to-reach, the poorest, the most marginalized and those without access to health services has been challenging. In the last push to eradicate polio, Polio Eradication Initiative communication strategies have become increasingly research-driven and innovative, particularly through the introduction of sustained interpersonal communication and social mobilization approaches to reach unreached populations. This review examines polio communication efforts in India and Pakistan between the years 2000 and 2007. It shows how epidemiological, social and behavioural data guide communication strategies that have contributed to increased levels of polio immunity, particularly among underserved and hard-to-reach populations. It illustrates how evidence-based and planned communication strategies - such as sustained media campaigns, intensive community and social mobilization, interpersonal communication and political and national advocacy combined - have contributed to reducing polio incidence in these countries. Findings show that communication strategies have contributed on several levels by: mobilizing social networks and leaders; creating political will; increasing knowledge; ensuring individual and community-level demand; overcoming gender barriers and resistance to vaccination; and reaching out to the poorest and marginalized populations. The review concludes with observations about the added value of communication strategies in polio eradication efforts and implications for global and local public health communication interventions.


Available from: Ketan Chitnis, Dec 15, 2014
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    • "No supply chain can overcome issues of gender-based decision-making in households. Medical approaches alone cannot address certain community concerns...These challenges demand effective communication action...(Obregan et al., 2009 [1]) Health communication is an evolving field that has shifted from an emphasis on health education towards behaviour and social change. The evidence that communication can help people adopt positive health behaviours and create demand for preventive and curative services is growing. "
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    ABSTRACT: Health communication is an evolving field. There is evidence that communication can be an effective tool, if utilized in a carefully planned and integrated strategy, to influence the behaviours of populations on a number of health issues, including vaccine hesitancy. Experience has shown that key points to take into account in devising and implementing a communication plan include: (i) it is necessary to be proactive; (ii) communication is a two-way process; (iii) knowledge is important but not enough to change behaviour; and (iv) communication tools are available and can be selected and used creatively to promote vaccine uptake. A communication strategy, incorporating an appropriate selection of the available communication tools, should be an integral part of every immunization programme, addressing the specific factors that influence hesitancy in the target populations. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Vaccine 04/2015; 87(34). DOI:10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.04.042 · 3.62 Impact Factor
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    • "Perspectives such as global health communication (Obregon & Waisbord 2012) and the culture-centred approach to health communication (Dutta 2008) conceptualise health promotion interventions as processes through which people understand their health priorities under specific social contexts through participatory decision-making. Participatory decision-making is deemed particularly effective to mobilise networks and leaders, create political will, increase knowledge, change attitudes, ensure individual and community demand for services and reach out to marginalised populations (Obregon et al. 2009). "
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    • "No supply chain can overcome issues of gender-based decisionmaking in households. Medical approaches alone cannot address certain community concerns and that is why OPV is brought to their door when many other services are not available (Obregón et al, 2009). "
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