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Open Access Research article

From their own perspective - constraints in the Polio Eradication Initiative: perceptions of health workers and managers in a district of Pakistan's Punjab province

Muhammad Umair Mushtaq1*, Ubeera Shahid1, Muhammad Ashraf Majrooh1, Mushtaq Ahmad Shad2, Arif Mahmood Siddiqui1 and Javed Akram1

Author affiliations

1 Research Society, Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan

2 Department of Health, Government of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

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Citation and License

BMC International Health and Human Rights 2010, 10:22  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-10-22

Published: 23 August 2010

Abstract

Background

The success of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was remarkable, but four countries - Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria - never interrupted polio transmission. Pakistan reportedly achieved all milestones except interrupting virus transmission. This paper describes the perceptions of health workers and managers regarding constraints in the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) to ultimately provide evidence for designing future interventions.

Methods

A qualitative cross-sectional study using focus group discussions and in-depth interviews was conducted in the Nankana Sahib District of Pakistan's Punjab province. Study subjects included staff at all levels in the PEI at district headquarters, in all 4 tehsils (sub-districts) and at 20 randomly selected primary health centers. In total, 4 FGD and 7 interview sessions were conducted and individual session summary notes were prepared and later synthesized, consolidated and subjected to conceptual analysis.

Results

The main constraints identified in the study were the poor condition of the cold chain in all aspects, poor skills and a lack of authority in resource allocation and human resource management, limited advocacy and communication resources, a lack of skills and training among staff at all levels in the PEI/EPI in almost all aspects of the program, a deficiency of public health professionals, poor health services structure, administrative issues (including ineffective means of performance evaluation, bureaucratic and political influences, problems in vaccination areas and field programs, no birth records at health facilities, and poor linkage between different preventive programs), unreliable reporting and poor monitoring and supervision systems, limited use of local data for interventions, and unclear roles and responsibilities after decentralization.

Conclusion

The study highlights various shortcomings and bottlenecks in the PEI, and the barriers identified should be considered in prioritizing future strategies.