Volume 101, Issue 4_Suppl
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



In 2013, the outbreak of wild poliovirus (WPV) in the Horn of Africa (HOA) triggered an aggressive, coordinated national and regional response to interrupt continued transmission. Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and other HOA countries share a range of complex factors that enabled the outbreak: porous and sparsely populated borders, insecurity due to armed conflicts, and weak health systems with persistently under-resourced health facilities resulting in low-quality care and low levels of immunization coverage in mobile populations. Consequently, the continued risk of WPV importation demanded cross-border and intersectoral collaboration. Assessing and addressing persistent communication gaps at the subnational levels were necessary to gain traction for improved immunization coverage and surveillance activities. This article describes a systematic approach to institutionalizing processes of dialogue and facilitation that can provide for a sustainable and effective joint cross-border health platform between Kenya and Somalia. It examines an operational model called the Cross-Border Health Initiative (CBHI) to support joint intercountry collaboration and coordination efforts. To evaluate progress of the CBHI, the authors used data from population coverage surveys for routine immunization and supplemental immunization activities (for polio), from acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance, and from plans developed by border districts and border health facilities. The project-trained community health volunteers have been a critical link between the hard-to-reach communities and the health facilities as well as an excellent resource to support understaffed health facilities. The authors conclude that the CBHI has been effective in bolstering immunization coverage, disease surveillance, and rapid outbreak response in border areas. The CBHI has the potential to address other public health threats that transcend borders.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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Supplemental materials

  • Received : 12 Jan 2019
  • Accepted : 20 Jun 2019
  • Published online : 03 Oct 2019

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