Building back better to boost childhood immunizations, amid severe drought – Somalia
June 20, 2022 — The promise of primary health care, and one of the main premises of universal health coverage, is to promote good health for everyone, everywhere, including during serious health emergencies. In Somalia, the World Health Organization (WHO) is leveraging its response to the current drought, the worst of its kind in 4 decades, to build back better. This means building more efficient health systems that reach more and more people equitably, delivering services in a timely manner without imposing new financial hardship on anyone.
Establishment of outreach vaccination sites to access communities in need
After noting the limited uptake of COVID-19 vaccination in health facilities across the country, WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and their partners supported ministries of Federal and state health to set up outreach vaccination sites around the country. These sites aim to bring services to people, especially those who do not attend health centers, to accelerate vaccination in order to protect more people against diseases in Somalia.
Building on the success of this intervention, WHO supported the same strategy to immunize children against common childhood diseases and women of childbearing age against tetanus. Children receive vaccines to protect them from childhood tuberculosis; diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP); polio; Hepatitis B; Haemophilus influenzae B-type; and measles. In addition, the outreach teams provide vitamin A, oral rehydration salts, tetanus vaccination and consultations with the necessary medicines to the communities.
Children who have never been vaccinated before benefit
Since the onset of the drought last year, through 239 sensitization sessions held per week in 35 districts, more than 11,000 children suffering from diarrheal diseases have been treated with oral rehydration salts and zinc.
Consultations in local services have benefited 39,412 people aged over 5 and 38,068 children under 5 to date. More than 29,000 zero-dose children have been identified and received their first vaccinations, and more than 52,000 children have been vaccinated against measles through these outreach services offered to marginalized communities and those living in hard-to-reach areas. ‘access.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has already had a negative effect on routine childhood immunization, the integrated awareness sessions have significantly boosted immunity in children who otherwise would have missed the chance to be protected from disease. By reaching out to communities, including the most vulnerable during the ongoing drought, Somalia is taking steady action to deliver on its promise to deliver essential health services to all.