Crossing rivers to get children immunized
Nurse Trésor paddles down the Ruki river to vaccinate children in remote areas.
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Because they live in remote areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), many children do not have access to essential health services – including vaccinations. They are deprived of this vital protection because health structures are difficult to access, as is the case in the heart of the Congo Basin.
Trésor Eyale is a nurse at the Lolifa Health Centre in Mbandaka in the province of Equateur. Twice a month, Trésor boards a canoe and sails on the Ruki river to vaccinate the most remote children. The villages along this river are inaccessible by road, which limits access to essential services for children. “I vaccinate to protect the lives of children in my community,” explains Trésor.
With his cooler, Nurse Trésor travels many kilometres to go from village to village. The number of hours spent rowing could discourage a lot of people, but for Trèsor every child matters. “I want them to grow up healthy because among them are future leaders, future doctors, and future vaccinators,” says Trésor surrounded by children.
The families who live along the Ruki river are always relieved when Nurse Trésor arrives with his canoe. Rachel, a mother of 5 children, was waiting for the visit of the nurse to vaccinate Josué, her 4-month-old son. “I am happy that Josué has just received his first vaccine because he will be protected,” explains Rachel.
Community workers and health personnel are rising to all the challenges necessary to get the doses of vaccines to the children who need them. It is thanks to their engagement that all of Rachel’s children are vaccinated and protected against potentially fatal diseases.
Rachel even encourages other families in her village to have their children vaccinated. “Personally, I think that vaccination is important in the growth of children,” she explains. Across the DRC, nearly one in two children has not received all the vaccines necessary for their protection during the first year of their life.
Thanks to the support of Gavi, Rotary, CDC, BMGF and USAID, UNICEF ensures that safe and effective vaccines are available in all corners of the DRC. Last year, more than 47 million doses of different routine vaccines were administered, protecting children against deadly diseases.