Democratic Republic of Congo launches major vaccination drive

Milestones :: Perspectives

Democratic Republic of Congo launches major vaccination drive
11 October 2018
Mashako Plan aims to boost vaccine coverage by 15 percentage points, protecting 220,000 additional children.
Kinshasa, 11 October 2018 – A quarter of a million more children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are set to be protected against some of the world’s deadliest diseases following the launch of a major new boost to the country’s routine immunisation programme.

The Emergency Plan for the Revitalisation of Routine Immunisation in the DRC, named the Mashako Plan after former DRC Minister of Health Professor Leonard Mashako Mamba, aims to raise routine immunisation coverage by 15 percentage points over the next 18 months, meaning 220,000 children that otherwise wouldn’t have will receive lifesaving vaccines.

“Vaccination is the most cost effective public health intervention,” said Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga, Minister of Health of DRC. “When children get vaccinated, they are protected against all sorts of preventable diseases that would otherwise prevent them from developing their full potential. Yet more than one million Congolese children are still not completely vaccinated. The ambitious Emergency Plan for Routine Immunisation will be a game-changer. It is an honour to name this plan after the late Dr Mashako, a true visionary who transformed the Congolese health system.”

In 1999, just 25% of children born in the DRC received basic Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough vaccine (DTP3). After nearly 20 years of Gavi support, that figure has grown to 81%. In the same period child mortality has shrunk from 165 to 91 children in every thousand dying before their fifth birthday. Vaccines to protect children from measles, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae, pneumococcal and polio are now delivered by the country’s routine immunisation programme.

Despite this progress, the DRC still has one of the highest rates of child mortality worldwide and 1.8 million children miss out on a full course of vaccines every year. As a result the country has seen major outbreaks of measles, polio and yellow fever – all vaccine-preventable diseases – in recent years…

The Mashako Plan will target eight vulnerable provinces; Ituri, Kasai, Haut-Katanga, Mongala, Kwilu, Tanganyika, Kinshasa, Tshuapa and Haut-Lomami. It will focus on five key objectives to improve coverage:
:: Immunisation services: Increase the number of immunisation sessions by 20%
:: Vaccine availability: Reduce stockouts by 80% at local health centres
:: Monitoring and evaluation: Monthly updated dashboard of key indicators of the plan
:: Inspection and control: Monthly inspection of immunisation activities in health zones and areas by inspectors
:: Coordination and financing: Operational steering committee of the plan meeting weekly for the next 18 months…