This African Immunisation Week, the Democratic Republic of Congo launched a the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to protect more than two million children. Gavi’s Fred Tissandier travelled to Kinshasa to see what was happening on the ground.
DRC has been polio-free since 2011, and that’s the way they want to keep it. Introducing IPV – an injectable polio vaccine – is expected to better protect children.
Word about the new polio vaccine is spreading fast. This mother was told about it a few days ago by a community health workers, and she has already brought her baby for vaccination. She heard about the damage caused by polio and she doesn’t want her daughter to suffer.
No vaccine can be introduced without support from health workers. As well as administering the vaccines, they are key for spreading the word among local communities.
Marie, pictured here with her granddaughter, is part of this effort. When she was 4 she contracted polio. That was 50 years ago. Now, she is a community health worker herself raising awareness about the importance of vaccination.
Madeleine is also a health worker on the frontline of the IPV introduction. Every day she picks up vaccines at the health unit of Kinshasa. Today she is carrying them to the Ngbaka health centre where mothers bring their children to be vaccinated. The newly introduced inactivated polio vaccine vials are packed into her cold box.
Ngbaka health centre in Kinshasa covers a population of more than 27,000 people. Every day, it is packed with mothers, children and patients.
Dozens of mothers come each day to get vaccines for themselves and their children, as well other health treatment such as vitamin A. However, this government-owned centre has no electricity to power refrigerator units, so it can’t stock any vaccines on site.
Erielle, almost one-month-old, is receiving the BCG vaccine. Her mum Madeleine explains how vaccines are important to help Erielle avoid life-threatening diseases. She will bring Erielle back in two-and-a-half months to receive the IPV vaccine and continue protecting her daughter against deadly disease.
All photos from Gavi Communications Manager Frederique Tissandier. Follow her on Instagram here.
Find out more about DRC’s launch of inactivated polio vaccine here.