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Improving the immunization coverage in the DRC

A baby is vaccinated in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

The African Vaccination Week has kicked off.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, health professionals have much to do for this annual event.

They raise awareness on the need and possibility to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Shukuru Kashonde lives in Birhende (South Kivu province). The small island is home to some 6,000 households and has no health center.

According to the GAVI vaccine alliance, the DRC and Ethiopia had the largest number of zero-dose children in remote rural areas in 2020.

"I have 7 children and none of them has ever been vaccinated because I couldn't go to the hospital. I have seen 5 children died because they didn't receive a vaccine. My eldest son died from measles," Shukuru Kashonde said.

Further north, in Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, parents would miss their medical appointments under no circumstances.

Dangerous journeys

Junior Wemba came with his wife and their son. "If we are in good health today, it is because our parents have taken good care of us from conception, through birth until today. This has allowed us to avoid certain diseases, and if they can still occur, it will not be as serious as for a child who has not been vaccinated for example."

To enable a maximum number of people to receive jabs, vaccination teams embark on perilous journeys. Indeed, some service providers have died as they tried to reach remote islets such as Birhende or the Idjwi island.

"There are children that we can't reach because some corners are remote. You can't get to these areas even by using dugout canoes. During the day, there can be waves on the lake, it is difficult to travel. Still, we do what we can in spite of everything "

The Immunization coverage in the Democratic Republic of Congo has progressed thanks among other things to the Mashako 2.0 plan.

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