Immunization is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions. Together with our partners, we're providing lifesaving vaccines for children across The Gambia
By protecting children against serious diseases, vaccines play a key role in reducing infant and child mortality. Immunization saves 2 – 3 million lives each year. Vaccines work, indeed!
The Gambia has been consistently registering immunization coverage of over 90% for three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP), often seen as the measure of national performance on immunization. Despite the increase in the number of children vaccinated, there has been a near-stagnation in immunization coverages over the past few years with reported coverages of 92 per cent in 2017 and 93 per cent in 2018.
Maintaining high immunization coverage and improving quality and equitable access to vaccination services to ensure all children in all communities are reached with all their basic vaccination, is the cornerstone of our support to The Gambia Government. Despite low coverage among poor or marginalized groups which threatens to compromise gains made in expanding coverage and creates an opportunity for potential disease outbreaks, we continue to be committed to reaching every child in every community with the required vaccines.
Protected from the threat of vaccine-preventable diseases, immunized children have the opportunity to thrive and a better chance of realizing their full potential.
With support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, we work with CSOs, NGOs, WHO and other UN agencies to support the Government of The Gambia to ensure that all children receive all their basic vaccinations. Our partnerships take various forms, with the aim of leaving no child behind, and reaching 100 per cent immunization coverage in the country.
We also support the Government of The Gambia in the procurement and management of all vaccines and cold chain equipment, to ensure a constant supply of vaccines and equipment needed to transport and store vaccines at all levels. This includes constructing storage rooms and equipping facilities with solar-powered cold chain equipment to ensure all vaccines reach all children without losing their potency. We champion efforts to increase access to immunization services, through the extension of service delivery points in areas of low coverage attributed to access.
As part of our work, we also advocate for and support the strengthening of community structures to increase the engagement and participation of local actors for demand generation of health services, including immunization. We support the training of health workers that are providing immunization services, equipping them with the right skills and tools to deliver quality immunization services; we mobilize funding and provide the technical assistance needed to strengthen the management of the national immunization programme, as part of our support to health systems strengthening in The Gambia.
A Future of Vaccines for Every Child
Our goal is to maintain the high coverage registered by The Gambia and work to improve the figures to attain 100 per cent coverage, contributing significantly to the indicators of SDG 3. Over the next few years, we'll be working to attain this goal using various approaches.
As part of our new approach, we are exploring equity-based strategies and innovations to reduce the number of children who do not receive all their required childhood vaccines and increase immunization coverage, particularly in the second year of life.
In line with the UNICEF West and Central Africa Office's Key Results for Children, we are providing strategic and technical leadership to strengthen integrated service delivery, including using the immunization platform to deliver other services such as birth registration, deworming and provision of infant and young child feeding practices to mothers.
We are also supporting the government in the introduction of new vaccines. This includes the introduction of MenAfrVac and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine in 2019 to ensure that children in The Gambia are protected from Meningitis and Cervical Cancer respectively. We are also working towards the optimization of the immunization supply chain to ensure more efficient and sustainable supply chain networks for vaccine delivery at all levels.