Vaccine 2016 Jun 2534(43) 5155-5158 pii S0264-410X(16)30395-4
Growing conflict and insecurity played a major role in precipitating polio outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. In Angola, the early post-conflict situation was characterized by the presence of many inaccessible zones and districts due to insecurity and poor infrastructure. Partnership with the Angolan Army health service (AAHS) was one of the innovative strategies that the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) introduced into the country to support the polio vaccination campaigns in insecure and hard to reach zones.
Before embarking on creating a partnership with Angolan military it was essential to make high-level advocacy with top military decision makers to engage the leadership in the process for better and sustainable support to the strategy. The principal supports provided by the AAHS were the administration of oral polio vaccine, vitamin A, deworming agents, social mobilization, monitoring campaign quality, and surveillance. Distribution of logistics using military vehicles and helicopters to hard to reach and insecure zones was also part of the support.
Using this partnership it was possible to reach a significant number of children in insecure and hard to reach areas with polio vaccine and other child survival interventions. The military partnership also contributed in increasing the demand and addressing rejection for the polio vaccine.
Military is a potentially productive force that can be used for any development activities in any country. The Angolan experience has demonstrated that it is possible to form a partnership with the military for basic health intervention activities with little training and investment.