April 2022: Partner News Round-Up

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) began an Ebola vaccination campaign on April 27 in the port city of Mbandaka in Equateur province, responding to a new outbreak that has claimed two lives since April 21. A ring vaccination approach will inoculate close contacts of confirmed Ebola patients as well as frontline and health workers, using an initial shipment of around 200 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV shot.

The DRC’s equatorial forests have been a hotbed of the Central African country’s Ebola crisis, with more than 2,000 people killed by the virus between 2018 and 2020. According to UN News, the latest outbreak indicates a “new strain of Ebola”—the result, WHO said, of a “spill-over event from the host or animal reservoir.” WHO AFRO; CNN; UN News

UNICEF and WHO warned of a “perfect storm” of conditions for measles outbreaks, with worldwide measles cases increasing 79% in the first two months of 2022, compared to the same period last year. According to the two United Nations agencies, pandemic-related disruptions, growing inequalities in access to vaccines, and the diversion of resources from routine immunization programs are leaving too many children without protection against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

As of April 1, 57 vaccine-preventable disease campaigns remain postponed due to the pandemic. The postponements span 43 countries, impacting 203 million people, most of them children. Nineteen of these are measles campaigns, putting 73 million children at risk of the disease due to missed vaccinations. WHO

 

Outbreak Response

Malawi launched the second of a four-round vaccination drive against wild poliovirus on April 25, targeting more than 2.9 million children under age 5. The third and fourth rounds are set for June and July, while the first took place earlier in April. Cumulatively, the campaign—which also covers Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—aims to reach over 23 million children with more than 80 million doses of bOPV. WHO Malawi (1); WHO Malawi (2)

Malawi also received 1.9 million doses of OCV from the global emergency stockpile to support the first round of an oral cholera vaccination campaign in April. The multiweek effort will target 1.9 million people age 1 and older living in flood-affected and cholera-prone districts, including those in southern and central regions affected by tropical storm Ana. Malawi declared a cholera outbreak on March 3. WHO Malaw

Cameroon ran the first phase of a cholera outbreak response vaccination campaign April 8-12, targeting 842,086 people age 1 year and older in the South, Littoral, and Southwest regions. The second phase (to occur at an unspecified date) will be extended to other regions. Xinhua

Ethiopia conducted a measles vaccination campaign in February and March, targeting over 500,000 children ages 6 months to 10 years. The outbreak response campaign took place in 21 woredas (districts) and one refugee camp in the SNNP, Somali, and Oromia regions. WHO AFRO

Israel launched a nationwide polio vaccination drive for children and adolescents ages 6 weeks to 17 years in late April, with a target coverage rate of 90%. The outbreak response will focus on children who had not received OPV in 2005-2013, when the oral drops were excluded from the country’s routine immunization schedule. Jerusalem Post; Yedioth Ahronoth

Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province launched a special polio vaccination effort in four districts (Bannu, Lakki Marwat, North Waziristan and Tank) after a polio case was reported from North Waziristan on April 22. It was the first case of wild polio in Pakistan in 15 months, and the third case reported globally in 2022. If there is a shortage of vaccinators due to the Eid holiday, the campaign will aim to cover the remaining children on a second drive scheduled for May 23. Express Tribune; Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme

 

Local Campaigns

PAHO celebrated its 20th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) April 23-30, aiming to reach 140 million people throughout the region with vaccines against measles, polio, rubella, diphtheria, and other preventable diseases. The first VWA was held in 2003 as part of a regional effort to tackle a measles outbreak in Venezuela and Colombia. PAHO

Ethiopia kicked off the second round of a polio vaccination drive April 15, targeting 16 million children under age 5 with nOPV2 drops. The campaign was conducted April 15-18 in all regions except Addis Ababa, Afar, and Tigray. Those three regions—which carried out the first round of the campaign in early April—will administer vaccines in May to adhere to the required four-week interval between the first and second doses. WHO Ethiopia; Ethiopian Monitor

Nepal ran a typhoid vaccination campaign April 8-May 1, after which the country introduced typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) into its routine immunization program. During the three-week campaign, 50,000 vaccination sites aimed to reach nearly 7.5 million children ages 15 months to 15 years, as well as provide immunizations to children ages 15 months to 23 months who have missed other routine vaccines. The drive also identified zero-dose children. Nepal is the fourth country—after Pakistan, Liberia, and Zimbabwe—supported by Gavi to introduce TCV into its routine immunization schedule. UNICEF

Three Congo Basin countries benefited from an antibiotic donation to combat yaws in April. Brazilian pharmaceutical firm EMS donated 6 million tablets of azithromycin to Cameroon, Central African Republic, and the Republic of Congo. Approximately 1.4 million people at risk of yaws in the three countries will receive the drugs in an initial MDA round, with further rounds aiming to reach 7.4 million in total. WHO AFRO

The Philippines launched an annual routine and catch-up immunization drive to reach at least 1 million children who have not received any routine vaccinations, including the more than half of vaccine-eligible children born during the Covid-19 pandemic who have not received a single shot. During “Chikiting Bakunation Days,” the health department will administer vaccines against polio, measles, hepatitis B, pneumonia, and other vaccine-preventable diseases during the last week of each month in April, May, and June. UNICEF Philippines

Kenya and Uganda launched a cross-border malaria control and prevention campaign in April. The effort includes bed net distribution, indoor residual spraying, and other interventions. In Kenya, the initiative targets endemic counties in the lake region: Busia, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Vihiga, and parts of Bungoma and Kakamega. Kenya News Agency

Japan rebooted its HPV vaccination drive on April 1 after a nine-year pause, with the health ministry resuming its recommendation that girls ages 12-16 get the shot. Less than 1% of eligible teenage girls have been vaccinated against HPV since the country’s 2013 decision not to promote the jab amid antivaccine sentiment and claims about “debilitating side effects.” Science

 

State of Campaigns, Volume 3 is out now!

The Covid-19 pandemic has created an opportunity to rethink how to plan and implement campaigns to better align with PHC strategies and reach difficult-to-access communities. This edition of State of Campaigns aims to further explore this rethinking by highlighting successful examples of campaign integration and the benefits of leveraging existing infrastructure to increase the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of public health campaigns.

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