14,011 The Drum Beat 778, September 11 2019, Impact of the Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) on Polio Eradication

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The Drum Beat 778
September 11, 2019
Impact of the Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) on Polio Eradication

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As readers of The Drum Beat 777 may recall, the Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) has worked from 2014-2019 to actively support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) by providing expertise, research, and knowledge dissemination in communication. The present Drum Beat takes a deeper look at the impact of this work, which has emerged through a global cooperative agreement with The Communication Initiative (The CI), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It does so by providing excerpts and highlights from, and links to, a paper written by Chris Morry, The CI’s Programme Director. (A PDF of “Maternal and Child Survival Program Polio Communication Program Summary” may be downloaded from the MCSP website, here.)
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  • 1. Overview
    “…MCSP’s objectives have been structured around the following areas: Providing expert technical advice on polio communication to endemic countries; supporting peer-reviewed research to increase representation of practitioners in journal literature; conducting original research into under-researched areas; providing direct support to outbreak countries, such as Madagascar, Lao PDR, and Ukraine; creating spaces for US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded and other agencies working on polio to capture lessons for dissemination; encouraging expert opinion dissemination and discussion through editorials and blogs; and building a Web-based network of over 13,000 people engaged in communication for polio and immunization, supported by a knowledge management platform with over 2,000 polio and immunization knowledge summaries disseminated through newsletters with large subscriber bases.”
  • 2. Key Accomplishments in Brief
    Examples of The CI’s work in 3 main areas: (i) Expert technical advice – e.g., supported a communication expert to participate as a member of 5 Pakistan and 6 Afghanistan technical advisory groups (TAGs). (ii) Research – e.g., conducted 2 original research projects into household health decision-making in Nigeria and analysing online conversations on polio in Ukraine. (iii) Knowledge dissemination – e.g., facilitated dissemination and discussion of research findings in public spaces, such as the International Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Summit held in Indonesia in 2018 with peers from other sectors and agencies.
  • 3. Expert Technical Advice
    There are 3 elements to this aspect of MCSP work: (i) “…The communication technical expertise MCSP provided to both [Afghanistan and Pakistan] TAGs had a direct impact on the evolution of communication strategies and activities during a time of significant expansion of the scope and size of communication and social mobilization activities in both countries…” (ii) “MCSP led or co-led polio communication reviews in Pakistan and Afghanistan….[T]he recommendations were incorporated into annual polio communication work plans for UNICEF and into national emergency action plans, which guide national program strategies and direction. As such, each review had a direct impact on polio communication priorities and activities providing critical insight and recommendations on problematic areas, such as the use of data for communication planning and strengthening community-level social mobilization…” (iii) “MCSP provided expert communication advice to six ! outbreak response assessments (OBRAs)…”
  • 4. Research
    MCSP research took place in 3 tracks: (i) “In 2016, MCSP established an initiative calling on researchers, policymakers, and program managers to submit papers that address critical issues related to the communication lessons and legacy of the GPEI and the relationship between polio and routine immunization (RI) programs. The purposes were to increase the number of peer-reviewed papers on RI and polio communication, and to ensure that academics from a range of countries…were supported in getting their research peer-reviewed, published, and widely disseminated through the polio website, its newsletters and partner networks, and the new open-access journal, Global Health Communication. In the end, this initiative generated 11 papers…” (ii) “MCSP conducted two major original research projects. The first…sampled 30 households per settlement in 60 settlements within wards and local government! areas in Sokoto, Kano, and Bauchi states of northern Nigeria. The findings were published in a report, Perceptions of Influence: Understanding Attitudes to Polio Vaccination and Immunization in Northern Nigeria, and a paper was published in Vaccine….The second identified several important links between Ukraine’s 2015 polio outbreak and how caregivers utilized social networks and social media for health decision-making….The study, Social Media Initiative in Ukraine: Analysis of Online Conversations on Polio, Vaccination, and Routine Immuniz! ation, was presented in Kyiv to government and polio partn! ers, and its findings were incorporated into social media strategies for polio and RI.” (iii) “MCSP also wrote a number of publications for direct publication to The Polio Network website. Some of these have been joint publications written with other organizations, and some have been written in-house. All attempt to capture polio lessons…”
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  • 5. Knowledge Dissemination
    “A major component of MCSP’s polio communication knowledge dissemination work has focused on engaging networks of people and organizations with an interest in SBCC and, more narrowly, those working directly on polio and/or immunization communication….MCSP’s knowledge dissemination strategies involve engaging these networks in a range of different ways: USAID and GPEI partner engagement to distill polio communication lessons; participation in major communication conferences to share lessons; workshops to share research methodologies and findings; high-level roundtables to identify issues and feed research into policy discussions; sharing perspectives from polio thought leaders through interviews and editorials; maintaining a website with constantly updated content and platforms for discussion; [and] promoting that content through newsletters with large subscriber bases…”
  • 6. Summary
    “MCSP’s polio communication work leaves a legacy of stronger polio communication programming in endemic and outbreak countries….This work has been integrated so that each component reinforces the other – expert advice is supported by ongoing research and an evolving and widely disseminated knowledge base. This combination has become an important resource for the polio program and will leave a legacy of policy advice, research, and disseminated knowledge.”
  • 7. Recommendations
    “Looking to the next 5 years, the GPEI strategy underlines the importance of improved community engagement and communication for successful eradication. Improvements will have to deal with emerging issues, such as the increasing influence of social media in the spread of misinformation and rumors that undermine vaccine acceptance, as well as with long-standing issues, such as vaccine hesitancy/refusal, reaching and engaging the most marginalized, population movement, and insecurity. Importantly, the GPEI will need to find new ways to respond to growing frustration, especially within underserved communities, at the heavy emphasis on polio vaccination when so many other, and often higher-priority community needs, go unmet.” [A series of specific strategic and process recommendations are offered.]
  • 8. Appendix 1. Statistics and targets table
    “The project was designed to have flexibility to be able to respond quickly to evolving needs and priorities within the polio program. As such, targets for specific activities were not always feasible.” [However, this table lists each outcome, targets, and completion markers.]
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This issue of The Drum Beat was written by Kier Olsen DeVries.
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The Drum Beat is the email and web network of The Communication Initiative Partnership.

Full list of the CI Partners:
ANDIBBC Media ActionBernard van Leer FoundationBreakthroughCiturna TVFundación ImaginarioFundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI)HeartlinesJohns Hopkins Center for Communication ProgramsMaternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP)MISAOpen Society FoundationsOxfam NovibPAHOThe Panos InstitutePuntos de EncuentroSAfAIDSSesame WorkshopSoul CitySTEPS InternationalUNAIDSUNICEFUniversidad de los AndesWorld Health Organization (WHO)W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The Drum Beat seeks to cover the full range of communication for development activities. Inclusion of an item does not imply endorsement or support by The Partners.

Chair of the Partners Group: Garth Japhet, Founder, Soul City garth@heartlines.org.za

Executive Director: Warren Feek wfeek@comminit.com

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The Editor of The Drum Beat is Kier Olsen DeVries.
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