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The members of the HCE Leadership Team wrote this commentary to highlight opportunities to re-think health campaigns in the wake of COVID-19. The piece was published in BMJ Global Health.
Health campaigns are time-bound, intermittent activities that address specific epidemiological challenges, expediently fill delivery gaps or provide surge coverage for health interventions.
They can be used to prevent or respond to disease outbreaks, control or eliminate targeted diseases as a public health problem, eradicate a disease altogether or achieve other health goals.
In 2020, more than 530 health campaigns were planned for 26 different interventions representing 13 diseases and 105 countries.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by the end of last year, about half of planned campaigns were postponed, cancelled, or suspended leaving hundreds of millions of children and families at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, tropical diseases and malnutrition.
So far in 2021, more than 280 campaigns have been cancelled or delayed.
As health campaigns restart and catch up on the delivery of missed drugs, vaccines and nutritional supplements, and countries roll out COVID-19 vaccines, there is an opportunity to rethink the way we plan and implement campaigns to improve their effectiveness and impact.