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International Efforts > Stop Teams

Stop Transmission of Polio
(STOP) Teams


Together we will be polio free logo

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STOP Teams:
Since the inception of the STOP program in the fall of 1998, STOP Teams have worked in nearly 50 countries. In the first years of the program, most STOP Team members worked primarily to strengthen acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance, support national immunization days, and conduct polio case investigation and follow-up. Though the focus remains on polio activities, the role for some team members has expanded to include supporting measles mortality reduction, activities strengthening routine immunization, and supporting the Integrated Disease Surveillance initiative. Additionally, we support these programs through communication management and data management.

The first STOP Team mostly consisted of CDC staff who were U.S. citizens (22 of 25 team members). Over time, there has been a steadily increasing involvement by citizens from the world community. It is now a truly global effort with STOP Team members reflecting the international commitment to polio eradication. International bridges are being built and global connections made among public health professionals through the STOP Team initiative that will continue long after the polio virus is gone.

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The When, Where and Why of Team Assignments:

When do STOP Teams go out?
Teams depart at 4-month intervals, in January, May, and September. These times are not flexible due to the resources required to organize the assignment.

Where do STOP Teams go?
Currently, most STOP Team members will be assigned to countries in Africa and South Asia however country assignments shift based on current priorities. The following link shows the map of STOP Team field assignments and the number of STOP Team members who have worked in each country.

Why are STOP Teams needed?
The work of STOP Team members is extremely important to achieve interruption of the polio virus. Many countries have a shortage of skilled public health staff available to fully support polio eradication and measles mortality reduction. WHO and UNICEF, working in conjunction with national Ministries of Health, request skilled short-term consultants who can provide field support to their programs. STOP Team members are considered the descendants of the "Smallpox Warriors" of the 1970s, hunting down the polio virus in the last reservoirs on earth.

As a member of a STOP Team, you will have an opportunity to work closely with representatives from Ministries of Health, WHO, UNICEF, local communities at the district level, Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), and CDC.

STOP Teams work under the most demanding and challenging of circumstances, in some of the worlds most difficult environments. At the same time, you will be part of the global effort to eradicate polio from the world so that the coming generations are free from the threat of polio.

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Duties and Responsibilities:
Team members do not choose the countries to which they are assigned, but may indicate a preference which is not guaranteed. Though team members are recruited and trained primarily by CDC, once on assignment, they are under the supervision of either WHO or UNICEF. As such, STOP participants will serve as short-term WHO/UNICEF consultants working at the district level*. Team members will be assigned to work with a national counterpart and participate in activities that may include any of the following:

  • Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance
  • Supplemental Immunization Activities, e.g., national immunizations days (NIDs), measles catch-up campaigns
  • Measles mortality reduction activities
  • Routine immunization initiatives
  • Integrated disease surveillance

* Data managers usually work at the national level in the capital city.

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Camera indicating pictures via this link Pictures of Supplemental Vaccination Campaigns

Nature of Assignment:
STOP assignments are intended for applicants with years of experience in public health who can work with little support and supervision. Living and working conditions in countries to which STOP participants are assigned can be very difficult. Challenges may include lack of adequate electricity and water, rugged traveling conditions, limited medical facilities, and limited communications.

STOP participants must be in excellent physical condition. We encourage participants who will need close medical supervision and access to medical facilities to postpone application to the STOP assignment until the need for close medical supervision has been eliminated.

Camera indicating pictures via this link  Pictures of Living Conditions

The STOP program is financially possible because it is made up of volunteers. Team members are not paid a salary. Through the support of WHO, Rotary International, UNICEF, Canadian Pubic Health Association (CPHA) and the CDC, participants are provided with airline tickets and a per diem to cover lodging, food and authorized miscellaneous expenses.

Prior to departing for the assignment, participants receive approximately 12 days of orientation conducted by CDC, WHO, UNICEF, and CPHA staff in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.  The purpose of the orientation is to provide participants with an overview of the assignment. Topics covered include a global overview of polio eradication and measles mortality reduction strategies, as well as an overview of routine immunization and disease surveillance activities. In addition, upon arrival in the country of assignment, STOP Team members are given a country specific orientation by the in-country team.

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Technical Qualifications:
STOP Teams 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 experience.

Relevant experience for field assignments is defined as having worked (school work/internships not included) in one or more of the following areas of public health: communicable disease surveillance (e.g., acute flaccid paralysis surveillance), field epidemiology (e.g., case outbreak investigations), and immunization programs, (e.g., developing, implementing, and monitoring programs).

Relevant experience for Data Management includes:

  • Computer/database experience
  • Disease surveillance experience
  • Programming experience desirable

Relevant experience for Communications Management includes:

  • Experience in developing and/or implementing public health communications plans
  • Social mobilization experience

Prior international work and fluency in French, Portuguese, or Arabic are considered additional strengths, but are not required.

Note: Supervisory approval will be required for all STOP Team members who are currently employed, with the exception of those who are self-employed. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) applicants must have supervisory approval before applying to the program.

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Social Qualifications:
It cannot be overemphasized that each candidate must work exceptionally well with others and possess strong interpersonal skills. As an assignee to the WHO or UNICEF, WHO/UNICEF field staff and Ministry of Health counterparts, as well as CDC and CPHA staff, reserve the right to end an assignment at any time (before, during orientation, as well as while on assignment) should they feel the STOP team member is having difficulty communicating with others, is being culturally insensitive, is allowing personal issues to get in the way of getting the job done,
is not fulfilling his/her duties to the satisfaction of any of the partners, or is jeopardizing the program in any way.

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STOP Team  Assignments are Unaccompanied Positions:
STOP Team members are frequently sent to challenging environments with very demanding living conditions. Family members are not permitted to accompany STOP participants during the field assignment. Applicants also should be aware that direct communications with family members can be very limited, as many areas may have little or no telephone or Internet access. Applicants should seriously consider their personal situation before applying. Assignments may also be cancelled if the host country decides that it does not need the assistance of the consultant after all.

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This page last modified on November 29, 2006


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