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STOP: Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) teams needed?

The work of STOP participants is extremely important to achieve polio eradication. Many countries have a shortage of skilled public health staff available to fully support polio eradication. WHO and UNICEF, working in conjunction with national Ministries of Health, request skilled short-term consultants who can provide field support to immunization programs. STOP participants are considered the descendants of the "smallpox warriors" of the 1970s, hunting down the polio virus in the last reservoirs on Earth.

STOP participants will have an opportunity to work closely with representatives from Ministries of Health, WHO, UNICEF, local communities, Canadian Public Health Association, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

STOP participants work under the most demanding and challenging of circumstances, in some of the world’s most difficult environments, to eradicate polio from the world so that coming generations are free from the disease’s threat.

What do STOP Teams Do?

In collaboration with local, national, and international counterparts (Ministry of Health, WHO, and UNICEF), STOP participants will likely be doing the following activities:

  • Promoting, conducting, and evaluating active surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP)
  • Planning, monitoring, and evaluating polio supplemental immunization activities (SIAs)
  • Monitoring and improving the quality of other SIAs such as national immunization days (NIDs) and measles catch-up immunization campaigns
  • Developing communication plans to support implementation of SIAs
  • Promoting, monitoring, and evaluating routine immunization programs and
  • Supporting and training staff on immunization data management systems

Who is qualified for STOP Teams?

STOP assignments require highly qualified public health professionals. The minimum qualification to be considered for a STOP assignment is at least five years of relevant public health work experience.

Relevant experience for Field Positions includes the following:

  • Having worked (school and work internships not included) in one or more of the following areas of public health:
    • Communicable disease surveillance or vaccine-preventable disease surveillance, especially acute flaccid paralysis surveillance
    • Field epidemiology such as disease outbreak investigations
    • Immunization program implementation, monitoring, and evaluation

Relevant Experience for Data Management Positions includes the following:

  • Computer and database experience
  • Disease surveillance experience
  • Computer programming experience

Relevant experience for Communication Positions includes the following:

  • Development of health communication messages or activities based on communication science and marketing principles
  • Social mobilization experience
  • Media relations
  • Experience writing for the media, including articles, talking points, and background documents

Supervisory approval will be required for all STOP participants who are currently employed. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention applicants must have supervisory approval before applying to the program

Are there citizenship requirements?

There are no citizenship requirements for STOP participants.

Do I need to have previous international health work experience?

Previous work and travel experience in developing countries is highly desirable, but not required for this assignment as long as the technical and social qualifications are fulfilled. This work assignment is not ideal as a first international health work experience.

Can family members accompany STOP participants?

The nature of the assignment and United Nations regulations are such that family members are not allowed to accompany STOP participants during training in Atlanta or while on country assignment. This assignment is considered an unaccompanied position.

Is STOP an employment opportunity?

NO, STOP is NOT an employment opportunity and it is NOT a SALARIED POSITION; it is a volunteer position. We do not recommend that you quit your regular employment for a STOP assignment. A STOP assignment is NOT GUARANTEED even if you are selected. Please note that if you are selected, your STOP assignment may still be cancelled or modified at any time.

Where are STOP participants sent?

Typically, participants are sent to polio endemic countries and countries at risk of polio in South Asia and Africa. Nevertheless, as the distribution of polio cases changes, teams will adapt to meet the needs of countries. Applicants do not choose the country to which they are sent, but they may indicate a preference. Placement in a preferred country is not guaranteed.

How long is the individual commitment to the STOP team?

Teams are in the field for 5 ½ months, in addition to approximately two weeks of training and orientation held in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

What conditions can one expect to encounter in the field?

The work environments are extremely challenging and may include extremes of temperature, lack of electricity, lack of adequate medical facilities, poor sanitation, inconsistent water supply, and rugged traveling conditions. In addition, since STOP is not a training program, the level of supervision and field support may be minimal.

When do the Teams depart?

Teams depart two times a year, in January and June.

Is there anything that may result in sudden or early termination of the field assignment?

If the political situation in the country where a STOP team member is assigned warrants evacuation of personnel, CDC, WHO, and UNICEF will be responsible for arranging for an evacuation leading to early termination of the assignment.

WHO and UNICEF field staff and Ministry of Health counterparts, as well as CDC and Canadian Public Health Association staff, reserve the right to end an assignment at any time (before, during orientation, and while on assignment) should they feel a STOP participant is having difficulty communicating with others, is being culturally insensitive, is allowing personal issues to interfere with their job, is not fulfilling his or her duties to the satisfaction of any of the partners, or is jeopardizing the program in any way. Assignments may also be cancelled if the host country decides that it does not need the assistance of the participant after all.

Can I go on personal travel during my five and a 5½ month assignment?

There is no official break while on a STOP assignment. Leaving your country of assignment during the mission is not permitted unless prior approval is obtained from your CDC supervisor and your in-country supervisor. In many cases, the work is expected to continue seven days per week throughout the duration of the assignment.

When should I apply?

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. STOP applicants are encouraged to apply at least 5 months in advance of their preferred departure date. Typically, teams are fully assembled 3 months before departure.

How do I apply?

To apply, send your application, current CV (name should be the same as it appears on your passport), contact information for three references, and the deployment date for which you wish to be considered.

Note: A medical exam is required at your expense if you are accepted into the program. For more information, please consult How to Apply for STOP Teams.

Who pays for my medical examination (x-ray, etc.) required after the preliminary acceptance?

You are responsible for paying all of your required medical examinations; chest x-ray, tuberculin skin test (PPD), and vaccinations are reimbursable expenses. Vaccination reimbursements will cover the cost of the vaccine but not the vaccine administration fee and office visit.

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  • Page last reviewed: January 27, 2014
  • Page last updated: April 26, 2012
  • Content source: Global Health
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