Alan Schnur talks about the daily routine of field workers, which was characterised by a heavy daily load of work in different locales and travel to the next focus of work.
Alan Schnur talks the importance of the innovation and creativity of field workers working at all levels of the global smallpox eradication programme, and this was true for both international and national staff.
Alan Schnur talks about attitudes amongst field workers – he refers to the optimism and team work that kept people going on a day to day basis, despite the fact that people came from diverse educational and national backgrounds.
Alan Schnur describes here the conscious decision of global smallpox eradication programme managers to avoid the models used in the global malaria eradication programme – the goal was to introduce operational flexibility on the ground.
Alan Schnur tells us here about the importance of spreading information about successful local innovations. He describes monthly meetings between staff, whose aim was to exchange and discuss ideas – indeed, it was often difficult to attribute authorship to ideas.
Alan Schnur talks here about the importance of school and market searches, which allowed programme workers to get a better idea of the epidemiological status of smallpox in specific regions as well as the nature of vaccinal coverage.
Alan Schnur tells us here about the weeding out of under-achievers amongst the global smallpox eradication programme workers – those who were not comfortable with the harsh realities of fieldwork were moved on.
Alan Schnur talks here about the complex interactions between international, national and local staff. He describes how international staff could open political doors, and also act as an important bridge between national, district and sub-divisional workers; indeed, ideas from junior officials working in the localities were often put on the agendas of meetings by some members of international staff.
Alan Schnur is a former WHO staff member. Following his work in the smallpox eradication programme in Ethiopia, India, Bangladesh, Somalia and Geneva, he worked in the Expanded Programme on Immunization units in two WHO regional offices: South-East Asia and the Western Pacific. He was a member of the Polio Eradication Task Force at the Regional Office for the Western Pacific that successfully guided countries to achieve the goal of zero polio cases in the region. During his assignment at the WHO country office in China, he worked on polio eradication and disease surveillance and response issues, including the response to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003. Mr Schnur's last assignment before retirement was with the evaluation unit at WHO headquarters in Geneva. His interests include sustaining awareness about the management successes of the smallpox eradication programme, particularly establishment of a culture of evaluation at all levels of the programme.