One of the most cost-effective ways to protect children’s lives and futures
Vaccinating women during pregnancy, and newborn babies after birth, helps to protect newborns from several diseases. When pregnant women are immunized against tetanus and diphtheria immunity passes via the placenta to the fetus, providing critical protection against these preventable diseases during the newborn period. Vaccinating babies against measles, polio, whooping cough, hepatitis B, pneumonia and tuberculosis also protects them from these diseases during their early days of life and into childhood (before they reach their first birthdays).
Yet, in Somalia, some babies and young children are not receiving any vaccines. In some situations, the ongoing conflict is making it difficult to deliver vaccines in remote or restricted areas. In others, parents and caregivers decide not to vaccinate their children because they are uninformed about the risks the diseases present or because misinformation has sowed distrust. Due to these challenges, the number of unimmunized children grows with time. This exposes communities to disease outbreaks.
UNICEF Somalia works together with the Government, WHO and other partners to vaccinate every child across the country. UNICEF’s activities include procuring and distributing vaccines, keeping vaccines safe through cold chain logistics, and engaging communities to create demand for vaccines. Mass immunization campaigns are also jointly organized with the federal Ministry of Health and WHO to vaccinate children under the age of five to create the necessary herd immunity to protect the target population.
Through a partnership with the federal Ministry of Health, UNICEF aims to ensure that there is an adequate supply and that the distribution of vaccines takes place all year round. A strong cold chain system, with standard storage equipment (fridges), has been established across national, regional, district and health facility level in Somalia. Government trained staff manage these facilities. With funding from Gavi, UNICEF supports the efforts to ensure the expansion of this capacity at all levels.
During the mass immunization campaigns, UNICEF-supported Social Mobilization Network (SOMNET) and community mobilisers play an instrumental role in building communities’ trust in vaccines. They have also bolstered routine immunization and provision of health services to mothers and children across the country. They are also critical in responding to diseases outbreaks such as COVID-19, cholera, acute watery diarrhoea and malaria.
UNICEF Somalia is committed to giving every child a fair chance at the start of life. It’s both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Because when children have what they need to survive and thrive, communities and the country can prosper.