INTERSOS presents today the new report on the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 conducted in Nigeria and Yemen
Two years after the launch of the effort to support vaccination against COVID-19 in areas of humanitarian emergency, INTERSOS presents a report to review achievements and share lessons learnt and recommendations for the future of the vaccination campaign. In early 2021, to contribute to the global response to the pandemic and help address the inequalities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, INTERSOS set up a task force to support the COVAX initiative to ensure vaccination in developing countries.
INTERSOS focused its intervention on two protracted crisis scenarios in which the organisation was already operative: the State of Borno in Nigeria and South Yemen, areas characterised by war, violence, extreme poverty, and natural disasters, with a high number of people in need of help. Since mid-2021, INTERSOS has been working with the Ministry of Health and the local authorities on several fronts to strengthen the local health system and extend the vaccination campaign to the entire population, including the most marginalised groups such as refugees and displaced people in refugee camps.
Thanks to the involvement of community leaders and volunteers, information activities on the efficacy and availability of the COVID-19 vaccines contributed to the increasing flux of people to the vaccination centres, while the donation of materials and machinery for transporting and maintaining the vaccines (cold chain) enabled the strengthening of the health facilities heavily affected by the pandemic. Training activities were organised to train the medical, social, and logistical staff on vaccination, the management of cases of adverse reactions, the management of the cold chain related to the different vaccine products, and the maintenance of the donated machinery: the aim was not only to deal with today’s emergency but to create also common practices, knowledge, and awareness for future emergencies.
Recommendations for the future of the vaccination campaign
In terms of vaccine administration, the results were particularly significant in the State of Borno, where between August 2021 and February 2023, 382,637 doses were administered for a total of 255,071 people fully vaccinated, 8% of the total of the State, many of them in areas of difficult access due to the ongoing conflict. In Yemen, the absolute numbers are even smaller, with 14,392 people vaccinated in the Governorate of Lahij in November 2022, but INTERSOS contributed significantly to the difficult start of the vaccination campaign. In both contexts, INTERSOS achieved more than 100% of the target. Thanks to the experience gained in the field, the INTERSOS report focuses on lessons learnt and recommendations to be shared with the international humanitarian community, indicating 6 decisive challenges for the future:
- The strengthening of health systems in the most fragile countries, moving from a vertical approach to the vaccination campaign to a horizontal and integrated approach in the overall offer of primary health services,
- The availability of adequately trained health personnel to be guaranteed, even in crisis areas, through recruitment, training, and staff retention programmes through incentives,
- Rapid, flexible and straightforward access to international funds to enable actors on the ground to act promptly and effectively,
- Investment in widespread communication and information activities and tools (RCCE and IEC), starting from the centrality of community involvement activities as a prerequisite for successful vaccination campaigns,
- The collection, management and sharing of updated and integrated data, also through the experimentation of new technologies,
- The implementation, with adequate resources, of a global epidemic surveillance system as a central element of a Global Health Security Agenda.