Two years following the commencement of the endeavor to assist immunization against COVID-19 in regions of humanitarian disaster, INTERSOS publishes a report detailing accomplishments, lessons learned, and future vaccination campaign suggestions.
To assist to the global response to the pandemic and help overcome inequities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations, INTERSOS established a task group to support the COVAX project to assure immunization in developing countries at the beginning of 2021.
INTERSOS concentrated its engagement on two lengthy crisis scenarios in which the organization was previously active: the State of Borno in Nigeria and South Yemen, regions characterized by conflict, violence, extreme poverty, and natural catastrophes, where a large number of people need assistance.
The management of adverse reaction cases, the management of the cold chain related to the various vaccine products, and the maintenance of the donated equipment: the goal was not only to deal with the current emergency, but also to create common practices, knowledge, and awareness for future emergencies.
Suggestions for the vaccination campaign’s future
In terms of vaccine administration, the results were particularly noteworthy in the state of Borno, where, between August 2021 and February 2023, a total of 382,637 doses were administered, resulting in a total of 255,071 fully vaccinated individuals, or 8% of the state’s population, many of whom resided in areas that were difficult to access due to the ongoing conflict.
In Yemen, even fewer individuals were vaccinated, with 14,392 in the Governorate of Lahij in November 2022, although INTERSOS made a considerable contribution to the vaccination campaign’s arduous launch. In both instances, INTERSOS exceeded the 100 percent mark. Due to field experience, the INTERSOS study focuses on lessons learned and suggestions to be shared with the worldwide humanitarian community,
Highlighting six significant future challenges:
- The building of health systems in the most vulnerable nations, shifting from a vertical approach to vaccination campaigns to a horizontal and integrated approach to the whole offering of primary health care.
- Even in crisis zones, the availability of suitably educated health workers must be ensured through incentive-based recruiting, training, and staff retention initiatives.
- Access to foreign money that is quick, flexible, and uncomplicated so that actors on the ground may act immediately and effectively.
- Investing in extensive communication and information activities and tools (RCCE and IEC), beginning with the importance of community engagement activities as a requirement for effective vaccination programs.
- The gathering, management, and dissemination of up-to-date and integrated data, including the testing of new technologies.
- As a major component of the Global Health Security Agenda, the construction of a worldwide epidemic surveillance system with suitable resources.