Supervivencia y desarrollo infantil

Pan-African Forum: Immunization as a way of building peace

Imagen del UNICEF
© UNICEF Senegal/2004/Delvigne-Jean
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy (center), at the Pan-African Forum on Building Trust for Immunization and Child Survival.

El contenido de esta página estará disponible en español en los próximos días.

By Thierry Delvigne-Jean

DAKAR, Senegal, 19 October 2004 – Over the past two days, delegates at the Pan–African Forum on Building Trust for Immunization and Child Survival in Dakar have been busy creating a better Africa for children.

The long and sometimes heated debates generated great interest among the religious leaders, traditional chiefs and media representatives gathered here for the three-day event.

In a panel discussion on immunization, delegates shared their experiences and ideas on how immunization can be a powerful tool for promoting peace and stability in their countries.

One of the greatest challenges in immunization is reaching children living in remote areas where paved roads are non-existent and poverty is the norm. In some cases, access is made even more difficult by ongoing conflicts. Around the globe, immunization teams are making tremendous efforts to overcome these obstacles and to make sure that every child is reached.

Over the past decades, temporary pauses in fighting have been arranged with warring factions or armed groups in situations of conflict, in order to reach children with life-saving vaccines. These pauses are known as ‘days of tranquility’.

Imagen del UNICEF
© UNICEF Senegal/2004/Delvigne-Jean
Delegates share their experiences at the Pan-African Forum in Dakar, Senegal.
Days of tranquility and peace corridors, allowing access to children otherwise cut off by conflicts, have been negotiated with armed factions in 19 countries since 1985. They have helped save countless lives.

Sierra Leone delegate Elisabeth Lavalie described how her country was able to vaccinate hard-to-reach children in conflict areas: “In the war in Sierra Leone, we had to immunize in the rebel-held areas. So we had to devise strategies: how to get to those people, how to build the confidence that is needed for the immunization to be carried out. We used relatives of the rebels who were in government areas to take the message to them, we used women’s groups, we did advocacy…”

UNICEF has supported similar approaches in many other countries. UNICEF immunization expert Reza Hossaini discussed the organization’s work in using days of peace in Somalia to facilitate immunization campaigns. The effort drew upon a previous successful experience in southern Sudan.

Ms. Hossaini explained: “UNICEF and WHO took a bold step to conduct a nationwide immunization campaign in Somalia – a daring challenge, both in terms of logistics as well as in the face of great insecurity, in a fragmented society. Thousands of clans and local religious leaders from all over Somalia came together for their children.”

UNICEF peace-building expert Babita Bisht said that immunization campaigns are powerful ways to bring communities together.

“Immunization is a very critical bridge for peace,” she said. “Because as you can see, in situations of recurrent conflict and instability, there is an inordinate amount of mistrust and hostility among different groups and community members.

“Immunization prepares the whole process of social mobilization that goes door to door, street to street, village to village. That really helps getting communities together; that really helps pass different messages; that really acts like a bridge between communities.”

Immunization has saved more than 20 million lives over the last two decades. It has also helped reduce poverty and promote economic development. And the experiences shared by forum delegates confirm that this cost-effective health intervention can also help end conflicts and build peace.


 

 

Video

19 October 2004: Delegates at the Pan-African Forum discuss the challenges of immunization.

Low bandwidth
View clip (Real Format)

High bandwidth
View clip (Real Format)

Video

18 October 2004: Religious and traditional leaders at the Pan-African forum discuss threats to African children

Low bandwidth
View clip (Real Format)

High bandwidth
View clip (Real Format)

Búsqueda