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In the endeavor to eradicate polio from the world, global health stakeholders have declared countries that have recorded highest cases of polio as in a polio crisis. Afghanistan is one of the countries that have recorded several cases of polio since 2013 thus the need to roll out vaccination campaigns to ensure all children in south-eastern, southern, and eastern provinces are vaccinated. Poliomyelitis, mostly known as polio, is a highly infectious viral disease that primarily affects children under the age of five. As the lead nurse, I have been tasked with ensuring the vaccination exercise is carried out in a professional way (Ansari, 2016).
Currently, there is no known cure for polio and can only be prevented by vaccination. One suffering from polio can easily infect surrounding people that are not vaccinated (WHO, 2013). Polio symptoms include fever, fatigue, vomiting, pain in the limbs, and in extreme cases permanent paralysis (Thompson, 2015).
Based on the mobilization level, we expected to have many people coming forth for the exercise. Therefore, we had to consolidate both international and local health practitioners. Local medics will help in bridging the language barrier between the locals and the non-local doctors. The primary purpose of the exercise is to offer polio vaccination to the locals. Therefore, the first intervention for the nurses is to diagnose the locals visiting the center for Poliomyelitis virus. This will help in segregating those with the virus from the rest to minimize the spread of the virus. Secondly, nurses will collect medical records of the children to determine whether they have any medical condition that can prevent them from vaccinated. The third and most important thing is to clarify to the locals visiting the station on the importance of being vaccinated against polio. This will help clear stereotypes and mistrust among the locals.
Previously, I have identified the most common symptoms of an individual suffering from polio. However, to confirm polio infection, a sample from stool or throat are taken and tested for poliomyelitis virus. If one is diagnosed with polio, they will need to be placed in care where they will be provided with fluids and placed in an environment where the spread is contained. Doctors without borders will be mandated with conducting polio tests, and physicians from American Red Cross will be mandated with caring for those found infected with the virus.
Poliomyelitis virus is spread from infected person to a healthy one through the faecal-oral route and by taking contaminated food or water. Therefore, infected patients in the shelter are carefully taken care of to ensure they don’t spread the virus to other people (CDC, 2013). Additionally, the general public was advised to take treated water always to minimize the spread of the virus. The patients in the shelter are taken care of based on the stage of their infection. Those in critical condition are taken care by regular nurses while those that are recovery are taken care of by community volunteers.
The vaccination drive is organized by World Health Organization (WHO) with collaboration with UNICEF and Afghan Ministry of Public health. Therefore, medical supplies are provided by WHO while humanitarian support is provided by UNICEF and American Red Cross. For patients who have been discharged from the shelter-care have been linked to regional health facilities where they can get medication.
Although conditions in the shelter are not the best, patients can get possible help from the capable group of medics we have. Locals who have visited the shelter seem strongly hit by the epidemic and constant war in the region. Some parents are traumatized how they have lost their children and properties. Therefore, we are offering counseling sessions to meet psychological needs of patients that have lost their loved ones and properties. Due to a large number of patients, the current medics are forced to work overtime which can cause burnout. To enable them rest and recover from the stress of work, I have come up with a schedule that makes sure every gets at least six hours rest time in a day.
To ensure confidentiality of patients, we have subdivided the shelter into small cubicles where patients’ sessions with physicians are private. Medics are also encouraged to make sure that patients’ medication information is held confidential as provided by the code of conduct. So far everything is running well in the shelter as there are no cases of crime or abuse within the shelter.
The official religion in Afghanistan is Islam where 99% of Afghans are Muslim. 80% of the population are Sunni Islam while the rest are Shias. Other minority religions are Hindus and Sikhs. Given a bigger percentage of medics in the shelter are Christians, some locals are reluctant to come forth. However, the local practitioners have been of great help while dealing with such extreme cases and helping us understand their way of life.
Afghan polio crisis is one of the many cases that global health organizations have been handling. Apart from the support provided by the national government through the Ministry of Public Health, some international organizations have supported the drive by the provision of supplies and stuff. Some of those agencies that have a hand in aiding global health disasters are Red Cross, UNICEF, WHO, and Doctors without Borders. Red Cross is a humanitarian agency that helps people faced by war, natural disasters, or health crisis. Red Cross is a world organization whose membership is voluntary. United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is a program under the umbrella of United Nations (UN) that provide humanitarian support to children and mothers in nations faced with a crisis. Doctors without Borders is, on the other hand, a humanitarian NGO is known for its help in developing countries and those nations affected by epidemics. To work as a nurse or doctor for Doctors without Borders, one must go through a competitive selection criterion. The recruitment process becomes even harder for persons who do not speak French.
As the lead nurse for the exercise, I can term the exercise a success despite numerous challenges encountered in the field. The exercise was able to vaccinate a large number of children which contribute to the campaign that sought to vaccinate 5.6 million children countrywide. Some of the challenges faced in the field were hostility from locals, language buriers, lack of enough medics, and adverse climatic conditions.
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- Ansari, M. A. (2016). Obituary to polio through the tool of social mobilization-A cross-sectional study in Western Uttar Pradesh. Journal of Comprehensive Health, 4(1), 28.
- CDC, M. R. (2013, November 21). Progress and Challenges Fighting Polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p1121-polio-progress.html
- Thompson, K. M. (2015). Polio eradicators use integrated analytical models to make better decisions. Interfaces, 45(1), 5-25.
- WHO. (2013). Poliomyelitis. Retrieved from World Health Organization Web site: http://www.searo.who.int/topics/poliomyelitis/en/