United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) Representatives Visit Henderson Clinic to Ensure Quality of Polio Vaccination Campaign in Zimbabwe
On 25 May 2023, high-level officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GEPI) visited the Henderson Clinic in Mazowe, Mashonaland Central Province to monitor the progress and quality of the third round of the nationwide polio vaccination campaign in Zimbabwe. The campaign is part of the sub-regional synchronized supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) aimed at protecting children against polio. This vaccination campaign is a comprehensive multi- country response to the polio outbreaks reported in Malawi and Mozambique.
The campaign, aimed to vaccinate all children under the age of five against the poliovirus, is part of Zimbabwe’s effort to eradicate the virus, which can cause paralysis and even death. The 3rd round of the nationwide polio vaccination campaign carried out from 23-27 May is expected to reach 2,641,846 million children under the age of five in the country. It included door-to-door where vaccinators visited households to vaccinate eligible children. In addition, children were vaccinated at all health facilities across the country and at usual outreach points. Active case finding for any child with sudden weakness of any limb was also done as part of monitoring for Polio.
The Mashonaland Central Provincial Nursing Officer, Mrs Chinyama, expressed her deep gratitude, emphasizing the motivating effect of the UNICEF and WHO representatives' high-level support visit. “It is always heartwarming to receive such appreciation and support from UNICEF and WHO. We are humbled by their visit and their continued support, which truly motivates all of us as health workers,” she said.
The visit by the UNICEF and WHO Country Representatives highlighted the importance of ensuring that the campaign is carried out effectively and efficiently. During the visit, the officials met with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) provincial leadership, district leadership, healthcare workers, observed the vaccination process, and provided guidance and support to ensure that the campaign was of high quality. They also interacted with caregivers, emphasizing the importance of bringing their children to clinics for vaccination to ensure that they are protected against polio.
Professor Jean- Marie Dangou, WHO Zimbabwe's representative commended the MoHCC Zimbabwe for its outstanding efforts in the polio campaign. He stressed the importance of reaching all children, especially those in hard-to-reach areas, to ensure that they are vaccinated.
Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, the UNICEF Zimbabwe Representative, also expressed his support for the campaign, stating that “UNICEF remains committed to supporting the Government of Zimbabwe in its efforts to eradicate polio.” He emphasized the importance of community involvement in the campaign, stating that “the collaboration and efforts by parents/ care givers, community health workers and community leaders remain critical in order to reach all children with the polio vaccine.”
Dr Abdelrahim Khalid, the GEPI Coordinator for Zimbabwe participating in the field visit, commended the efforts of all stakeholders involved in the campaign and urged continued collaboration to ensure its success.
The WHO and UNICEF has been providing essential technical support to the MoHCC, including guidance on planning and coordinating supplementary immunization activities, developing supplementary immunization activities guidelines, and providing training for vaccinators, Independent Monitors, and Lot Quality Assurance Sampling surveyors. To further support the campaign, the WHO deployed technical officers to each of the ten provinces before the implementation of the supplementary immunization activities, providing on-the-job supervision during all pre-implementation activities, ensuring oversight of the vaccination campaign itself. During the campaign, these officers supported monitoring of progress using standard tools including completion and submission of data to the national level. These efforts are crucial in ensuring the success of the vaccination campaign and protecting children from the devastating effects of polio.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organzation (WHO) – Zimbabwe.