UNICEF supports Burundi government's polio immunization campaign
The second round of the UNICEF-supported polio immunization campaign has just been completed. More than 2.8 million children aged 0-7 years were reached.
It's Thursday, August 17. It's the first day of the second round of the polio vaccination campaign. The UNICEF Burundi team is visiting the Gatumba, Rukaramu and Maramvya health centers, in the Mutimbuzi commune of Bujumbura province. The purpose of the visit was to see how child immunization activities were progressing. At the Gatumba health center, social mobilizers, recorders, vaccinators, and supervisors equipped with their working tools are mobilized to cover the entire zone. By 10 a.m., the campaign is already in full swing.
"I am very happy. My three children have just been immunized and are now safe from polio infection and its devastating consequences," said a smiling Révocate Niyongere, one of the many mothers who have immunized their children.
Strategies for campaign success
Several strategies were used to ensure the success of the campaign. According to Diane Niyakire, who supervised the Isare health district, social mobilizers began the process of pre-marking and sensitizing households three days before the campaign; communiqués were distributed in churches and the media; and megaphones were used to raise awareness in public places.
The success of this campaign was also due to the unwavering commitment of the local administration, which worked with community health workers and health center managers to address cases of vaccine refusal.
At Bujumbura City Hall, the mayor, CP Jimmy Hatungimana, chaired a sensitization meeting for health district directors, municipal education directors, municipal administrators, and representatives of religious denominations to reach as many children as possible.
The door-to-door vaccination strategy was well received by the community. "Compared to the vaccination campaigns that used to take place in health centers, where some parents didn't bring their children, this is an improvement," says Jeanine Singirankabo, director of Gatumba Health Center in Bujumbura Rural Province.
According to national data, 3,361,1991 children were immunized against polio, 1,529,485 received vitamin A supplements, and 2,400,727 were dewormed. In the Isare health district, 74,997 children were vaccinated out of an expected 65,631, for a coverage rate of 114.2%.
During her visit to Isare health district to monitor the campaign, accompanied by the WHO Representative and the Acting Representative of UNICEF, the Minister of Public Health and AIDS Control, Dr. Sylvie Nzeyimana, encouraged parents to continue with routine immunization. She noted that the resurgence of certain vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and polio, shows that the immunization schedule is not being followed. Dr. Nzeyimana called on all stakeholders to redouble their efforts to meet immunization targets.
In collaboration with government authorities, other Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners and Burundian communities, UNICEF, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, supported the Government of Burundi's efforts by providing expertise in logistics coordination and social mobilization.
UNICEF Burundi, in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, supported social mobilization activities from the national to the community level to mobilize and engage the community by disseminating essential information about the campaign in close collaboration with the various stakeholders and influencers at all levels.
Polio is a highly infectious viral disease. It is caused by the poliovirus, which is most transmitted from person to person through the fecal-oral route. The key to stopping this epidemic is good hygiene and, above all, vaccinating every child with safe and effective polio vaccines.