Global Health Seminar Series: Reaching every last child in the polio eradication endgame

Nomadic children often do not receive polio vaccinations. (Photo by Thomas Moran, WHO.)

Victoria Gammino, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and

Victoria Gammino-croppedPrevention (CDC), pursues polio across rural Africa, using geospatial data to ensure that polio vaccine reaches every child, even in nomadic families.

“As long as polio remains anywhere in the world, all the world’s children are at risk,” says Gammino, who is leading a study of immunization coverage among nomadic Somali communities in northeastern Kenya, who are constantly on the move in search of grazing for their livestock. “Reaching every child can be difficult, but microplanning using geographic information systems is one of the best tools in the eradication toolkit.”

Gammino discusses her work at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, in room 1309 in the Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Ave. Her talk, “Every Last Child: Operational Challenges to Polio Eradication in 2014,” is part of the Global Health Seminar Series hosted by the Global Health Institute. Gammino will also visit with students and UW-Madison colleagues during her visit.

Victoria Gammino helps ensure children in nomadic settlements are vaccinated for polio. (Photo by Daud Yusuf.)
Victoria Gammino helps ensure children in nomadic settlements are vaccinated for polio. (Photo by Daud Yusuf.)

Working within the CDC’s Global Immunization Division, Gammino has evaluated supplemental immunization activities in northern Nigeria and designed strategies to reach nomadic communities in East and West Africa to ensure children are vaccinated against polio. She has collaborated with the World Health Organization and other partners to apply geospatial analytics and remote-sensing techniques to improve polio program planning.

“Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. Therefore, the strategy to eradicate polio is based on preventing infection by immunizing every child to stop transmission of the virus that causes polio, and ultimately make the world polio free.”—Victoria Gammino

Gammino joined CDC in 2002 as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination where she conducted operational and policy research on TB/HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. She also implemented a five-country cohort study of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment outcomes. She also has served as a staff member or consultant to several private foundations and non-governmental organizations in the areas of program design, evaluation and strategic planning.

Gammino earned her master’s degree in epidemiology and a doctorate in international health from Johns Hopkins University.

To learn more about Gammino’s work, visit the CDC blog.