Vaccination campaign success in cyclone-affected districts

Measles-rubella vaccination campaign reached over 61,000 children aged 6-59 months and included Vitamin A supplementation and malnutrition screening.

John Mokwetsi
young girl receiving Vitamin A supplementation during the catch up campaign in cyclone-affected Chimanimani district.
UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Shepherd Tozvireva

19 June 2019

CHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe - Eleven-year-old Shamiso Takara danced on a portable stage to the applause of the hundred-strong crowd gathered at Nhedziwa Shopping Centre in cyclone-affected Chimanimani district. Shamiso was enjoying the UNICEF-supported roadshow promoting the measles-rubella campaign to vaccinate children aged 6-59 months.  The campaign included screening for the nutrition status for children under five and supplementation with vitamin A for children 6-50 months.

A young boy dances during the catch up campaign held at Nhedziwa shopping centre to encourage vaccination against measles-rubella.
UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Shepherd Tozvireva
A young boy dances during the catch up campaign held at Nhedziwa shopping centre to encourage vaccination against measles-rubella.

Shamiso was one of many schoolchildren attending the roadshow that used music, presentations and dance to mobilise communities in Chipinge and Chimanimani to immunise their children against vaccine-preventable diseases in areas where health facilities were made inaccessible by Cyclone Idai.

Besides the crowd’s appreciation for her dance skills, Shamiso drew cheers from classmates from Matendeutse Primary school, for successfully answering a question about the campaign. “For measles, I know that every child between 6 months and 5 years of age must be immunised. My young brother is one of them and I will tell my mother to come to the clinic,” she said shyly before the crowd erupted with a roar of approval.

“For measles, I know that every child between 6 months and 5 years of age must be immunised. My young brother is one of them and I will tell my mother to come to the clinic,”

Shamiso listens attentively during the UNICEF-supported roadshow at Nhedziwa shopping centre. The roadshow was promoting the measles-rubella campaign to vaccinate over 73,000 children aged 6-59 months and provide them with Vitamin A supplementation.
UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Shepherd Tozvireva
Shamiso listens attentively during the UNICEF-supported roadshow at Nhedziwa shopping centre. The roadshow was promoting the measles-rubella campaign to vaccinate over 73,000 children aged 6-59 months and provide them with Vitamin A supplementation.

Catch-up campaign

The Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) campaign ran from 12 - 23 May in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts with support from UNICEF and WHO. With funding from the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) and UK aid from the UK government, UNICEF procured some 100,500 doses of measles rubella vaccine plus injection devices and safety boxes, to support the immunisation campaign, which included the replacement of child health cards, lost because of the cyclone. Over 61,000 children were vaccinated in the campaign.

UNICEF with funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, also supported the MoHCC and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to conduct a simultaneous Human Papilloma Virus vaccination campaign for girls aged 10 to 14 to reduce the future risk of cervical cancer as part of the national routine immunization programme.

Health Promotion Officer, Yeukai Tarambwa, says the roadshows were effective in supporting both vaccination campaigns: “After the cyclone many people were not able to access services like vaccination. We are trying to catch up with those who were affected and had no access to us. Remember, that we already have a national Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination campaign going on. The road shows [were] effective because people [were] looking for a place where they could learn, but most importantly have a reason to dance together and share stories. This is the African tradition. It is our Zimbabwean way of being communal in all we do. This is a traumatised community and music and education in one place helped a lot to drive the point home.”

According to Tarambwa, families without child health cards were also pleased with the outreach efforts. “[It was] important to create accessibility to vital documents. [Not having these] can deter parents from bringing their children for immunisation, given how complicated [the process] can be.”

Working together to mobilize communities for results

Waynne Sithole, a Ward Nutrition Coordinator at Biriiri Hospital, received UNICEF-supported training on how to conduct social mobilisation for the vaccination campaign. His work involved informing Health Village Workers about the campaign so that they, in turn, could pass on the messages to their communities.

Hundreds of predominantly school children gather at Nhedziwa shopping centre to listen to an educative address on a UNICEF-supported roadshow catch up campaign.
UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Shepherd Tozvireva
Hundreds of predominantly school children gather at Nhedziwa shopping centre to listen to an educative address on a UNICEF-supported roadshow catch up campaign.

Working together to mobilize communities for results

Waynne Sithole, a Ward Nutrition Coordinator at Biriiri Hospital, received UNICEF-supported training on how to conduct social mobilisation for the vaccination campaign. His work involved informing Health Village Workers about the campaign so that they, in turn, could pass on the messages to their communities.

“We talked to community leaders who have influence to make the campaign successful. The leaders frequently meet with their communities to impart knowledge on campaigns such as this one. We also made use of the business community to help us,” Sithole said.

“The community had to bury their beloved ones and most of them are still trying to come to terms with the tragedy. This affected attendance at some of the meetings we organised for mobilisation, but otherwise they were impactful and helpful.”

As government and development partners continue to support the people of Chipinge and Chimanimani to recover from the effect of the cyclone, the success of the campaign to keep children safe from vaccine-preventable diseases, will give Shamiso even more reason to dance.


Preparations for this campaign built on the resilience, mobilisation and support of Village Health Workers already trained and deployed for routine programmes under the Health Development Fund (HDF) funded by UK aid, EU, SIDA, Sweden, Irish Aid and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to strengthen Zimbabwe’s health system.