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BMC Public Health. 2018 Dec 13;18(Suppl 4):1306. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-6193-z.

Lessons learnt from implementing community engagement interventions in mobile hard-to-reach (HTR) projects in Nigeria, 2014-2015.

Author information

World Health Organization, Country Representative Office, Abuja, Nigeria.
World Health Organization, Country Representative Office, Abuja, Nigeria.
World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo.
National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Abuja, Nigeria.
Global Public Health Solutions, Atlanta, GA, USA.



The year 2014 was a turning point for polio eradication in Nigeria. Confronted with the challenges of increased numbers of polio cases detected in rural, hard-to-reach (HTR), and security-compromised areas of northern Nigeria, the Nigeria polio program introduced the HTR project in four northern states to provide immunization and maternal and child health services in these communities. The project was set up to improve population immunity, increase oral polio vaccine (OPV) and other immunization uptake, and to support Nigeria's efforts to interrupt polio transmission by 2015. Furthermore, the project also aimed to create demand for these services which were often unavailable in the HTR areas. To this end, the program developed a community engagement (CE) strategy to create awareness about the services being provided by the project. The term HTR is operationally defined as geographically difficult terrain, with any of the following criteria: having inter-ward/inter-Local Government Area/interstate borders, scattered households, nomadic population, or waterlogged/riverine area, with no easy to access to healthcare facilities and insecurity.


We evaluated the outcome of CE activities in Kano, Bauchi, Borno, and Yobe states to examine the methods and processes that helped to increase OPV and third pentavalent (penta3) immunization coverage in areas of implementation. We also assessed the number of community engagers who mobilized caregivers to vaccination posts and the service satisfaction for the performance of the community engagers.


Penta3 coverage was at 22% in the first quarter of project implementation and increased to 62% by the fourth quarter of project implementation. OPV coverage also increased from 54% in the first quarter to 76% in the last quarter of the 1-year project implementation.


The systematic implementation of a CE strategy that focused on planning and working with community structures and community engagers in immunization activities assisted in increasing OPV and penta3 immunization coverage.


CE; Hard to reach; Mobile health team; Mobile immunization services

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