UNICEF supports the Government of DRC in continuing immunization in North Kivu during COVID-19
KINSHASA, 21 April 2020 – Amid the growing COVID-19 epidemic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is continuing its routine immunization activities to tackle measles outbreaks in the North Kivu province, east of the country.
Since 1 January, 3,167 cases of measles have been reported in North Kivu province. Children under the age of five are the most affected.
The measles outbreak response vaccination campaign, launched on Tuesday 21 April 2020, initially targets 150,491 children aged 6 months to 5 years in the 7 most affected health zones in North Kivu province. These are Beni, Mabalako, Manguredjipa, Bambo, Birambizo, Mweso and Nyragongo.
The vaccination protocol has been modified to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Caregivers or parents and their children will only be allowed inside the health centres in small groups and are required to keep at least one metre distance from others. In addition to the supply of vaccines, UNICEF has ensured the provision of protective equipment, sanitizers and surgical gloves for health workers administering the vaccines. Children, their caregivers and parents will also be required to wash their hands with soap and water provided at the vaccination site.
"Immunization remains a life-saving health intervention. It is absolutely essential to continue immunization activities, while ensuring that the protective and preventive measures against COVID-19 are respected and that health personnel are trained and equipped to carry out their mission," reiterated Frederic Emirian, Head of the UNICEF Goma Office.
Between 2019 and 2020, the measles epidemic was the most serious in the Democratic Republic of Congo with more than 332,000 cases and more than 6,200 deaths, of which about 85 per cent are children under 5 years of age. Vaccination is the only means of prevention against measles and the measles vaccination campaign in North Kivu province follows that of Equateur, where more than 200,000 children were vaccinated between 23 and 25 March 2020.
In its report published on 31 March 2020, UNICEF calls on the Government to allocate a greater share of its budget to vital health services for pregnant women, newborns and young children and to make the strengthening of routine immunization a priority.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.