Rwanda is one of the African countries with the best coverage for the Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vaccine (DPT) vaccine, a new report by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF showed on Tuesday, July 18.
The DPT vaccine coverage is used as the global marker for immunization coverage.
In recent years, Rwanda achieved and sustained a vaccination coverage of 95 percent for the most common infectious vaccine-preventable diseases and this has contributed to reducing child mortality. According to the report, African countries boast the greatest improvement in DPT3 coverage in 2022 compared to 2021.
Liberia had the best improvement of 12 percent to take its general coverage to 78 percent, followed by Rwanda with a 10 percent which took its general coverage to 98 percent.
In an interview with The New Times, Hassan Sibomana, the manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), noted that they are especially carrying on with the usual efforts of trying to “not leave any child behind when it comes to vaccination.”
“The efforts are the usual ones; we try hard to ensure that no child remains unvaccinated,” he said.
Among the efforts that Rwanda used are technological tools, including DHIS2, a software platform for the collection, reporting, analysis and dissemination of aggregate and individual-level data.
With such technologies, there is better statistical and public health data management which can play a role in increasing immunization service coverage by, for example, monitoring immunization dropout so that timely response is done.
In addition to this, Rwanda’s national immunization program success is supported by a political landscape shaped by unique aspects of Rwandan culture, for example, working together and accountability.
According to Sibomana, when RBC officials do some awareness campaigns upcountry, they call upon people to find out whether there are any unvaccinated children so that they can be brought for vaccination.
Factors related to healthcare constitute some of the targets set for district administrations by the government. If a particular district is not performing well, the government tries to find out why.
On a major note, Rwanda enjoys key support from foreign partners in its vaccination efforts, due to factors like political will, a culture of accountability, the involvement of all local and international stakeholders, and community engagement which have all played a key role in vaccinating many of the country’s target population.
Support from NGOs and international organizations has benefitted Rwanda’s vaccination program in many ways, including improved cold chain capacity, procurement of newly developed vaccines, and funding for vaccination programs for refugees in Rwanda.
In 2019, GAVI Vaccine Alliance, a global health partnership that works to improve access to immunization in developing countries, supported Rwanda to establish a vaccine warehouse worth around Rwf1.7 billion.
During the launch event for the warehouse, GAVI’s programme officer in Anglophone Africa Region Support indicated that the building was a result of the good performance of vaccination in Rwanda.