From mass vaccination campaigns to routine immunization in Rohingya Camps

WHO Bangladesh/ Catalin Bercaru

To further protect one million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, the Ministry of Health Family and Welfare (MoHFW), working with WHO and UNICEF and other health partners scaled up in June the routine childhood immunization programme.

Increasing immunization coverage among the Rohingya refugees against vaccine preventable diseases is a priority for the health sector, both through vaccination campaigns and through strengthening of routine expanded programme of immunization (EPI). The programme addresses to children below two years of age and follows the same immunization structure as in the rest of the country, ensuring protection against a large spectrum of life threatening diseases. The children are being administered pentavalent vaccines, which protects against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Haemophilus Influenzae, and hepatitis B, pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV), bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV), Bacillus Calmette–Guérin vaccine against Tuberculosis (BCG), measles and rubella vaccine (MR). The pregnant women are also vaccinated against diphtheria and tetanus (TD vaccine).

More than 4,000,000 doses of vaccines have been delivered during nine mass vaccination campaigns since September 2017, to cover a huge immunization gap among Rohingya population. The newly started programme is meant to make vaccination of the youngest children an ordinary event after birth. Reaching out to all children still remains a challenge so efforts are made to identify children who have not yet been immunized. Engagement with the communities and health messages in local language are important part of the immunization program.

94 teams of vaccinators in outreach and static posts are conducting the daily routine immunization, for more than 111,000 estimated children under two years old and for the future newborns as well as more than 50,000 pregnant women per year.

During each month, alternative 12 days are allocated for registration of the children and pregnant woman on door to door basis and consecutive following 12 days for vaccination. During registration, vaccinators are also conducting information activities on nutrition, and other newborn health related issues.

The vaccination teams are supported by 21 WHO Immunization Field Monitors (IFMs) that are monitoring and guiding the whole vaccination process. The IFMs look up for timely arrival and distribution of vaccines, compliance with cold chain guidelines, assisting vaccinators in registration and vaccination, ensuring also the mobilization of the communities.

WHO remains committed in supporting Government to implement routine immunization as the most sustainable, reliable and timely action against vaccine preventable diseases.