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STOP: Frequently Asked Questions

Why are STOP participants 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 immunization and surveillance activities. WHO and UNICEF, working in conjunction with national Ministries of Health, request skilled, short-term consultants from the STOP Program, who can provide field support to immunization and surveillance 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, and local communities in their country of assignment.

Who is qualified to participate in the STOP Program?

The CDC is seeking highly qualified public health professionals to join the STOP Program for up to four 5½ month assignments, for a maximum of two years. Please click on the links below to find out more about the specific qualifications for each STOP position.

Fluency in English or French is required. Fluency in a second language, such as Spanish or Arabic, is desired. Prior experience working or studying internationally is highly desired, but not required to apply.

What do STOP participants do in the field?

In collaboration with local, national, and international counterparts, STOP participants conduct the following activities, including but not limited to:

  • Improving acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), measles/rubella, and general VPD surveillance
  • Assisting with the planning, implementation and monitoring of polio and measles/rubella immunization campaigns to improve vaccination coverage
  • Improving Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) systems through capacity building, resource mobilization and advocacy
  • Providing technical expertise in communications plans and social mobilization activities to support polio eradication efforts
  • Using communication methodologies to help increase the demand for childhood immunization and acceptance of vaccinations
  • Supporting the national government and local partners in advocacy for vaccination, as well as the development, implementation, management, monitoring and evaluation of communications plans for the national EPI program
  • Improving data recording and reporting processes
  • Improving data quality monitoring, evaluation and feedback sharing with data sources
  • Improving data analysis and use
  • Improving data sharing with partners and stakeholders


How long is a STOP assignment?

Each STOP assignment is 5½ months long. There is a possibility to redeploy for up to four assignments, for a maximum total of two years with the STOP Program.

Where are STOP participants sent?

STOP participants are deployed to polio endemic and high-risk polio countries. It is not possible to request a country of placement, and placement in a country is not guaranteed. To see a map of where STOP participants have been deployed in the past, please click here.

In what conditions do STOP participants live during their assignments?

While the safety of our STOP participants is of the utmost importance, they generally work at the lowest level of the health systems in their countries of assignment, often in challenging environments with very demanding living and working conditions. Some challenges may include lack of adequate electricity and water, rugged traveling conditions, limited medical facilities, and limited communication.

Can family members accompany STOP participants?

No – As STOP participants are frequently sent to challenging environments with very demanding living and working conditions, family members are not permitted to accompany STOP participants to their country of assignment. In addition, family members are not permitted to accompany STOP participants to training. Applicants should also be aware that communications in the field can be very limited, as many areas may have little or no telephone or Internet access. Applicants should seriously consider their personal/familial situation or any other extenuating circumstances before applying.

Do I need previous international experience to apply to the STOP Program?

No – Previous experience working or studying internationally is desired, but not required for participation in the STOP Program.

Is STOP an employment opportunity?

No – STOP is not an employment opportunity; it is a volunteer position. We do not recommend that you quit your regular employment for a STOP assignment.

Am I guaranteed deployment to the field with STOP?

No STOP participant is guaranteed a position in the field. The STOP Program reserves the right to withdraw your acceptance to the team or terminate your contract at any time (during training or while on assignment).

Should I quit my job?

No – The STOP recruitment process is long and landscape on the ground is ever changing. Please do not quit your job prior to being formally accepted to the STOP Program. In addition, it is recommended that you speak with your supervisor about the possibility of taking an extended leave of absence or suspending your contract if selected to participate in the STOP Program. 

Who issues my STOP contract?

Although participants are recruited and trained primarily by CDC, STOP participants are deployed under short-term WHO contracts and are under the supervision of either WHO or UNICEF once in the field.

Can I keep my current UN contract?

No – it is not possible to hold two UN contracts at once. Since STOP participants are deployed on WHO contracts, you must either suspend your current UN contract or decline to participate in the STOP Program.

Do I need a passport?

Yes – you must possess a passport, valid for 3 years from the time of your application, before applying to the STOP Program.

Can I go on personal travel during my assignment?

STOP is a full-time job. You have been recruited to assist in areas of the world that need your complete attention and dedication. You should expect seven-day work weeks during your assignment. Leaving your post during your assignment period is highly discouraged and must be approved in advance by WHO/UNICEF and CDC. Your daily per diem provided will be docked accordingly, and all travel expenses are the responsibility of the STOP participant.

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  • Page last reviewed: November 28, 2016
  • Page last updated: November 28, 2016
  • Content source:

    Global Health
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