Monday August 20, 2018
Despite having one of the lowest immunization rates in the world,
Somalia has made great strides in increasing immunization coverage in
recent years with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and
other health system strengthening partners. To enhance coverage even
more, in early August 2018, WHO Somalia brought together all the major
organizations and institutions involved in immunization to lay the
foundation for better coordinated immunization efforts in Somalia.
Representatives from the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance,
the only major financial donor to immunization in Somalia, as well as
implementing partners UNICEF, the Somali Federal Ministry of Health, and
a number of nongovernmental organizations reviewed the progress of
their collaborative efforts to expand immunization and identified key
challenges in strengthening immunization coverage within Somalia’s
fragile health system.
Immunization coverage had improved since the previous
year, partners noted, thanks in large part to better coordination among
stakeholders involved in immunization efforts at the regional and
district level, as well as improvements in cold chain storage and
vaccine supply. As a result, measles cases continue to decline. Another
notable sign of progress was the successful country-wide rollout of
District Health Information Software, a platform for reporting, analysis
and dissemination of health information, including immunization data.
Better data will allow WHO and its partners to design better targeted
interventions to close gaps in immunization coverage.
Shortages of qualified health workers, the uneven
availability of cold chain storage and transportation for vaccines
outside of major population centers, and ongoing hyperinflation and
insecurity affecting immunization operations were all identified by
partners as major challenges to overcome in improving immunization
Over the next year, WHO and health partners in Somalia
will work to close staffing and capacity shortfalls in the Somali
health workforce, support the Ministry of Health to develop annual
immunization work plans, improve data management, and launch
immunization outreach services for rural and underserved populations.
Health partners also stressed the need to step up engagement with
communities in order to promote the broadest possible involvement by
parents and children in immunization campaigns.
Photo Courtesy: World Health Organization