Working towards the eradication of Polio by reducing counterfeit vaccinations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Student Team: Marko Polio
Travis Entrop (LinkedIn), Jimmy Forsmo, Jordan Fitzgerald, Cathy Lei
Ahmed M. Kassem, MD, MPH, PhD, CPH, Center for Disease Control
Today, polio has successfully been eradicated nearly worldwide; in Afghanistan and Pakistan, however, polio remains endemic. Due to polio’s highly infectious nature, failure to eradicate this disease in Afghanistan and Pakistan could lead to as many as 200,000 new cases each year over the next decade. Although vaccination campaigns headed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently underway in these regions, these campaigns still face significant obstacles that ultimately hinder polio eradication efforts. Most notably, the marking and monitoring procedure utilized by campaign workers to assess the campaign’s progress is underdeveloped and prone to error. Currently, individuals who have been vaccinated receive a silver nitrate mark on their hand. However, this mark is often counterfeited by non-campaign workers, which results in discrepancies between actual and recorded vaccination administration data. This data is also recorded using pen and paper, which is subject to being misplaced, altered, or damaged. Additional factors that must also be considered include any potential language barriers, varying cultural beliefs and taboos, and different socioeconomic and geopolitical environments. The logistical and cultural aspects of the vaccination campaigns, along with numerous user interviews, led to the creation of a dual-component device to better monitor the campaigns’ progress. The device consists of a stamp and a reader. The stamp imprints a semi-permanent mark, consisting of a standard ink and a UV-fluorescent ink, on the back of the hand. The UV ink contains a signature design indicating authenticity that cannot be counterfeited. The reader then takes an image of the mark to process it for authenticity and stores the result internally. Overall, the device employs two-factor authentication and double-blindedness to create a monitoring system that is robust, accurate, and efficient, such that a polio-free world can ultimately be realized.
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