Immunization field monitors - WHO’s eyes and ears in the Rohingya camps
Twenty-eight-year old Rocky is one of the 15 team members of the immunization field monitors (IFM) established by WHO in Cox’s Bazar to strengthen immunization efforts in Rohingyas camps and among their host communities.
The IFMs connect with local leaders, partners, and most importantly with the community. The information that they gather, helps WHO and partners monitor both routine immunization and vaccination campaigns, and improve, amend and tweak ongoing efforts as per the needs of the people.
“I consider myself as WHO’s ears and eyes on the ground. During the ongoing Cholera immunization campaign, the information that I and the rest of the team has gathered, has been used to decide vaccination sites, engage with local leaders, identify volunteers, and even help target those Rohingyas who arrived in Cox’s Bazar after the last vaccination campaign”, Rocky said.
One million people above one year of age, living in Rohingya camps and surrounding areas in Cox’s Bazar, are being administerd oral cholera vaccine during the ongoing mass immunization campaign. 245 vaccination teams with over 1800 health workers and volunteers are carrying out the campaign.
This is the first vaccination campaign after establishment of the IFM team in March this year. Their engagement has facilitated involvement and support of 1700 local leaders in the ongoing cholera vaccination campaign.
During the campaign, each IFM has been monitoring around 15 vaccination teams to check and ensure that the teams have the necessary materials and that vaccination is being carried out as per WHO’s guidelines.
Rocky has also been working with children. “While the parents are busy, the younger ones are being brought to the vaccination sites by their elder siblings. Since Cholera vaccine is given oraly, the children are less afraid, as compared to taking an injection” he adds.
Each day, a rapid evaluation is conducted to assess the quality of the vaccination campaign. The information collected also shows how people got to know about the campaign, or if they were unaware, and if they have not been vaccinated, why they missed the vaccine. The finger mark that the vaccinators put on the left hand little finger using an indelible ink is a proof of immunization which the monitors look for, and many children joyfully flaunt.
At the end of each day reports are compiled and submitted online. An analysis for the reports helps improve the immunisation activity in the coming days, with the focus on vaccinating those missed out or likely to be missed.
“Our goal is, no matter what, no one should be left behind. Everyone should get the lifesaving vaccination.”
This is a second cholera vaccination campaign being held for the Rohingyas since they arrived in Cox’s Bazar from Myanmar last year. Earlier 900 000 doses of oral cholera vaccine were administered to the vulnerable population in two phases in October – November.
The campaign is led by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with support of World Health Organization, UNICEF, icddr,b and other partners.