Successful polio eradication in Uttar Pradesh, India: the pivotal contribution of the Social Mobilization Network, an NGO/UNICEF collaboration

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2014
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In Uttar Pradesh, India, in response to low routine immunization coverage and ongoing poliovirus circulation, a network of U.S.-based CORE Group member and local nongovernmental organizations partnered with UNICEF, creating the Social Mobilization Network (SMNet). The SMNet\'s goal was to improve access and reduce family and community resistance to vaccination. The partners trained thousands of mobilizers from high-risk communities to visit households, promote government-run child immunization services, track children\'s immunization history and encourage vaccination of children missing scheduled vaccinations, and mobilize local opinion leaders. Creative behavior change activities and materials promoted vaccination awareness and safety, household hygiene, sanitation, home diarrheal-disease control, and breastfeeding. Program decision-makers at all levels used household-level data that were aggregated at community and district levels, and senior staff provided rapid feedback and regular capacity-building supervision to field staff. Use of routine project data and targeted research findings offered insights into and informed innovative approaches to overcoming community concerns impacting immunization coverage. While the SMNet worked in the highest-risk, poorly served communities, data suggest that the immunization coverage in SMNet communities was often higher than overall coverage in the district. The partners\' organizational and resource differences and complementary technical strengths posed both opportunities and challenges; overcoming them enhanced the partnership\'s success and contributions.