Reaching out to partners in the time of COVID-19: Immunization
Since early March, the COVID-19 pandemic in the West and Central Africa (WCA) region has rapidly escalated. The number of confirmed cases had reached 113,379 (WHO, 1 July 2020), with at least 1,800– 2,000 new cases reported daily. Out of 24 countries in the region, 21 are at the community transmission phase – the most advanced stage of the pandemic. The pandemic is affecting all aspects of immunization services – from how they are provided, perceived, utilized and resourced to the collective ambitions and a roadmap to reach universal immunization coverage. Disruption to immunization services, even for a short period of time, will lead to an elevated risk of children contracting vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles and yellow fever – important childhood killers.
In this unprecedented global public health crisis, all countries in the WCA region are working on 1) redirecting health resources to COVID-19 testing and treatment; 2) putting in place measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19; and 3) innovatively adjusting operational modalities to be “COVID-19-proof” to enable the continuity of essential services including Immunization.