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Japan gives UNICEF US$1.5 million to improve tracking of under-immunized and unimmunized children

Funds will be used to implement a digitized community health information system that will allow systematic tracking of children who have missed out on vaccine doses

Kampala; The Government of Japan has provided a US$1.5 million (UGX5,710,860,000) contribution to the United Nations Children’s Agency – UNICEF, to support the Government of Uganda to improve tacking of under-immunized and unimmunized children at community level.

UNICEF will utilize the funds to roll out a digital health information system that will help reach unimmunized and under-immunized children with required vaccines, and those targeted for COVID-19 vaccination; assist health workers to plan for vaccination supplies; and track COVID-19 vaccination.

A recent “zero-dose” survey conducted in four urban districts revealed that there is still a significant number of children who are either not immunized or under-immunized.

Adongo Mirriam, 42, the EPI focal person at Ogur Health Centre IV in Lira District, Uganda sets of with a motor bike to Lwalu Village to conduct vaccination of children who have been brought by their mothers and are waiting for her at the outreach unit. Because of the solar-powered fridges procured and installed by UNICEF, vaccines in this area have been stored and used effectively within the community

Before a child celebrates their 1st birthday, they should have received BCG, Diphtheria-HepB-Hib, Hepatitis B, OPV, IPV, Rotavirus, Yellow Fever, Measles-Rubella, PCV vaccines. 10-year-old girls in school and community are required to receive the HPV vaccine.

The absence of an accurate or near-accurate source of the actual number of children who have defaulted on vaccine doses, complex data collection forms, lack of a simplified way to visualize stock status, defaulters, and children due for immunization in each month, difficulty in ensuring accurate monitoring of vaccine stocks, receipts and deliveries are some of the challenges impacting the way immunization services are delivered.Once the digital tracking system is implemented, the Ministry of Health and partners will be able to improve the quality of services and coverage to reach the unimmunized and under-immunized wherever they are through outreaches and improved planning.

350 health workers and 60 Ministry of Health and Regional Referral Hospital officials will directly benefit from this innovation while 1.3 million under 5 children in the pilot districts of Kamuli, Kampala, Kamwenge, Lamwo, Mukono, Ntungamo and Wakiso, will benefit indirectly. The intervention will also benefit 10 million under five children at national level and 21 million vaccinated children aged 12-18 years that will be vaccinated against COVID-19. The project targets are to be realized by the end 2024.

Adongo Mirriam, the EPI focal person and midwife at Ogur Health Centre IV, in Lira District, preparing to start vaccinations at an outreach centre in Lwalu Village. UNICEF with funding from the Government of Japan, purchased cold-chain equipment available, including new solar-powered technology, to strengthen Uganda’s cold chain infrastructure. This equipment was distributed to various health facilities across the country

“The Government of Japan is pleased to announce a US$1.5 million contribution to UNICEF, to support the Ministry of Health to implement a digitized health information microplanning system that will address challenges experienced in the delivery of immunization services and to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). In addition, at the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8) held in August 2022, Japan pledged to work on countermeasures against COVID-19, promotion of UHC, strengthening of health and medical systems, and building better health security. This cooperation is an embodiment of this pledge”, says H.E. Fukuzawa Hidemoto, the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Uganda.

With the financial support from the Japanese Government, UNICEF’s intervention will contribute to the improvement of estimation of “zero-dose” children and better identification of where such children are located at the lower community level within the districts.

UNICEF Representative to Uganda – Munir Safieldin (Phd.), says collecting accurate data in a timely manner will improve the immunization coverage specifically through better estimates as to the quantity and location of the target population at the community level.

With this funding from the Government of Japan, the Ugandan government with support from partners will be able to better manage routine and supplementary immunization, COVID-19 vaccination, vitamin A supplementation, deworming and community nutrition screening data for Uganda.

UNICEF will work closely with the Ministry of Health Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization, Health Information Management Division, Community Health Department to implement the project.

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