The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and UNICEF provide 1,390 Android phones for monitoring routine immunization performance

29 June 2020
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and UNICEF provide 1,390 Android phones for monitoring routine immunization performance
UNICEF DRC Desjardins

KINSHASA, 29 June 2020 - Thanks to the financial support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF has just provided the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) with a batch of 1,390 Android smartphones and internet subscription kits to monitor the performance of routine immunization in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

As part of the implementation of the Emergency Plan for Immunization called "Mashako Plan" and to meet the commitments of the National Forum on Immunization and Poliomyelitis Eradication held in Kinshasa in July 2019, UNICEF received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the Ministry of Health. 

One of the forum's commitments was to ensure real-time monitoring of immunization indicators for rapid decision-making. 

"Through these smartphone, connected to a server at the central level, the EPI will be able to monitor five essential indicators for the achievement of results, namely, the availability and functionality of the cold chain, the availability of vaccines, the respect of the minimum number of immunization sessions, the supervision of health areas by the Provincial Health Division team and the supervision of health areas by the Health Zone team," said Elisabeth Mukamba Musenga, National Director of the EPI in DRC. 

A first batch of 319 smartphones had already been handed over to the EPI Directorate to cover the Kwango province. A second batch of 1,071 phones will be sent to the 7 other provinces targeted by the Mashako Plan.

Launched in 2018, the Mashako Plan initially aimed to improve immunization coverage in 9 vulnerable provinces of the DRC, including Ituri, Kasai, Haut-Katanga, Mongala, Kwilu, Tanganyika, Kinshasa,  Tshuapa and Haut-Lomami. In view of the satisfactory results, the Ministry of Health decided to extend this initiative in 2020 to 8 other provinces of the country, namely Kwango, Tshopo, Maniema, Sankuru, Central Kasai, Eastern Kasai, South Kivu and Lomami.

"UNICEF welcomes the efforts of the Government of DRC to improve routine EPI indicators and reiterates its commitment to support it in improving immunization coverage in DRC," said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in DRC.

The latest rapid immunization coverage surveys carried out in 2019 and 2020 by the Kinshasa School of Public Health in the provinces covered by the Mashako Plan show that immunization coverage rates have improved in one year thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Health and its technical partners. Thus, from 2018 to 2019, the proportion of children fully vaccinated rose from 49.5% to 58.9% in Kinshasa, from 8.2% to 26.6% for Mongala and from 15.4% to 21.7% for Tshuapa.

The Mashako plan has made it possible to strengthen the performance of the routine EPI by improving the availability of vaccines, the regularity of vaccination sessions, the functionality of the cold chain and communication. The following results have been achieved: 

  • 95% of the cold chain was functional by December 2019 at the level of health areas and health zones;
    50% of the health centres visited in December 2019 all have the vaccines and consumables8,000 more immunization sessions were carried out monthly in the provinces of the plan, an increase of more than 50% compared to 2018; 
  • 79% of the supervised health areas now carry out the minimum number of vaccination sessions.

Through performance monitoring, the EPI will be able to improve immunization coverage rates for children in DRC and thus reduce the risk of exposing children to deadly diseases such as polio, measles and yellow fever.

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