Dr-Martin_02 Rwanda 2017 Audio Transcript
Dr. Rebecca Martin, Presenter: I would say one of my biggest efforts has been the measles elimination efforts in East Africa. We were able to reduce measles deaths by over 50% in the time that I was there in the seven countries where I was working. I was able to see measles wards. There were no need for them anymore. Unfortunately with time and efforts not sustained, we have seen that cases have come back; because you need to continue prevention efforts. I was able to see large, mass campaigns where thirty-five million children were vaccinated in a ten day period, and be engaged in that, and bring in integration of other public health interventions such as Nocodazole for deworming, Vitamin A and the use of insecticide treated net distribution as well. Making sure that we were reaching the most with the most interventions at one point in time. Working and working with you in Tanzania, was a great opportunity to establish the field epidemiology training program, and the fruits of that we have seen have been incredible. I now, when I go to world assembly meetings or to ministerial meetings, the people that are sitting across the table are the people who have gone through the field epidemiology training program. They are now leading the ministry of health in Tanzania and setting the health priorities for their country. It is a great program to see the efforts of establishing that. When I moved to Copenhagen, I was working with the European regional office for WHO and in a country and in a continent that had been declared polio free since 2002, now six years later was an outbreak, an importation of wild polio virus in Tajikistan. There I think one of the hardest things I had to do was to get countries to report the diseases. Many country did not want to report the cases they were seeing both in a public health sense on trying to make sure and putting measures to vaccinate. We also had to deal at that geopolitical level and the politics and bringing those two together was something I learned very quickly needed to be done early on. And lastly I would just mention the H1N1 pandemic that occurred also at that time. And there again countries, seeing different countries getting different vaccines. And why were only certain populations being vaccinated not others? The importance of the communication of talking about why you are vaccinating certain populations. The importance of understanding the value of vaccines and that vaccines were safe. Were critical to be able to vaccinate populations. I also learnt that we were not prepare to respond to that outbreak. I say that because most of the countries that didn’t have access to vaccines didn’t get if for another ten months after pretty much the pandemic had stopped. And there I realized quickly, that I wanted to make sure that we focus on, how we make sure countries are prepared to respond to outbreaks.