‘It makes me feel good and confident to live longer for my children’

Covid-19 Vaccination; Reaching vulnerable populations in IDP camps

Kassahun Zewudie Yibeltal
Reaching vulnerable populations in IDP camps
UNICEF Ethiopia/2022
04 April 2022

Mullu Usman Ibrahim is a 35-year-old mother who is currently living in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Debark, northern Gondar Zone of Amhara Region. She is living there with her four daughters - the little one being four months old.

Mullu is a caring mother who is always determined about taking care of the health and wellbeing of herself and her family.

”When we were in Adirkay, we heard that COVID-19 is a dangerous disease that can kill a lot of people at once. We have also heard that the disease can be transmitted through shaking hands, coughing, sneezing and through living in congested place together. I know that hand washing, wearing a mask, and physical distancing are the prevention methods. Me and others in our tent are doing our best to practice these methods, even though it is difficult to fully practice them considering our living conditions. We are sixteen in one tent and we can’t afford buying masks as well. All these things will make us more vulnerable for COVID-19 transmission,” said Mullu.

With support from UNICEF, partners on the ground and the mobile clinics and mobilization activities in the camp, Mullu got vaccinated for COVID-19 recently.

“The health workers operating here told us to be vaccinated for COVID-19,” said Mullu. “They explained what the vaccine is, the benefits and to whom it is given to. As soon as they explained to me, I was very happy to be vaccinated and I accepted it without any hesitation. I have been really worried about what we might face if the vaccine didn’t come. It’s not so much about me but for my children that I was worried about. I was thinking what will happen to them if I pass away with this deadly disease.”

Mullu is very happy that Covid-19 vaccination is given at the IDP site. She is now advising and mobilizing others to get vaccinated.

Abebech Berhe: Health team coordinator in Kulch Meda (Debark) IDP
UNICEF Ethiopia/2022
Abebech Berhe: Health team coordinator in Kulch Meda (Debark) IDP

Abebech Berhe is health team coordinator in Kulch Meda (Debark) IDP camp. According to Abebech, there are different activities being done regarding Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) and COVID-19 vaccination demand generation activities.  

“There is health education and mobilization team who coordinate RCCE activities inside the IDP camp. Also, the Mobile Health and Nutrition Team (MHNT) assigned by different organizations are doing effective work in providing health education for IDPs about COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. So far, they didn’t face any resistance for COVID-19 vaccines. With the effective demand generation activities done within the IDP camp, they have managed to vaccinate more than 3,224 IDPs which is 98 per cent of the target population,” said Abebech.

Recognizing the strong need by the community and the burden it imposed on the public in general, and women and children in particular, UNICEF, with funding of more than ETB 6 million (US$120,000) from BPRM, Japan Committee for UNICEF and Global - Thematic Humanitarian Response, worked with Amhara Regional Health Bureau, Zonal Health Departments, and with the community to support COVID-19 RCCE and vaccine demand promotion activities.

The funding is mainly utilized for RCCE and vaccine demand generation activities for conflict affected communities/IDPs. In addition, regional health bureaus, with the financial support from UNICEF, deployed MHNT to Kulch Meda IDP that are carrying out different health and nutrition services out of which, Covid-19 vaccine promotion and RCCE are included.

"After I get vaccinated, I encouraged others living in our tent to get vaccinated as well. Now, all of the four household heads in our tent are vaccinated for Covid-19,” said Mullu proudly.