Conflict events can disrupt immunization programs and lead to attacks on health workers

This modeling study examined the impact of conflict events on disease control efforts during an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The model used a timeline of conflict events and an ethnographic appraisal of attacks on health care workers and treatment centers to estimate their impact on the epidemic trajectory of Ebola. Overall, the population-level effectiveness of vaccination was reduced by 43% due to disruptive conflict events. The researchers also found that declining incidence of Ebola was repeatedly reversed by conflict events. This framework can be extended to other diseases and regions experiencing conflict.

Investments in polio eradication in Africa improved overall immunization systems and increased coverage of routine vaccinations

A systematic review of 8 African countries that had wild polio virus transmission and significant polio eradication activities found evidence that the huge investments made in polio have strengthened capacity in almost all aspects of the overall immunization systems, especially in the areas of microplanning, service delivery, capacity-building (especially supportive supervision and on-the-job training), and program management. This led to substantial increases in coverage of other routine vaccinations – BCG, DPT, measles – in all 8 countries over a 25-year period (1989-2014), including a more than a 3-fold increase in DPT3 coverage in 2 countries and a more than a 2-fold increase in 3 other countries.

Efforts to eradicate polio have also led to improved access to other vaccines

The expertise and assets gained through efforts to eradicate polio at least partially explain the improvement between 2013 and 2015 in vaccination coverage of DPT3 in six out of ten “focus” countries of the Polio Eradication Endgame strategic plan. This includes substantial increases in vaccination rates in India, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, which, combined, reduced the number of children not fully vaccinated with DPT by 2 million in 2 years.

Disease outbreaks can be associated with school closures, food insecurity, and health system disruptions

In a 2018 study, researchers describe the devastating and far-reaching impacts of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including more than half a million people experiencing food insecurity, school closures lasting more than 7 months, tens of thousands of children orphaned, and a huge proportion of the health workforce killed by the disease, leading to infant, maternal, and child deaths due to a lack of skilled health workers and a 97% reduction in surgical capacity.