World Vision Works in Zimbabwe to Ensure Critical Vaccinations for Women and Children

Life Course Immunization Program supported with grant from Pfizer Foundation

With a grant from the Pfizer Foundation*, World Vision is working in Zimbabwe to ensure young children and women receive critical vaccinations through the Life Course Immunization Program.

Families in the districts of Gokwe North and Gokwe South have immunization rates that are significantly lower in most instances than the national averages for tuberculosis, measles/rubella, polio, rotavirus, diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis, and pneumonia, and the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health is in the early stages of rolling out access to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in the program area.

Since the two-year program began in February 2017, activities have focused on supporting government health systems with staff training and improving the cold chain to keep vaccines viable; and training community and religious leaders, health staff, and local volunteers to promote improved health by ensuring infants, young children, and pregnant women receive necessary vaccines. Doing this enables district health facilities to better manage and deliver immunization programs, and breaks down cultural and other barriers that stand in the way of families making use of these programs.

Moms and babies wait their turn for immunizations at a World Vision Life Course Immunization Clinic (Photo credit: World Vision)

Through Life Course Immunization, 61 nurses in district health facilities have been trained on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Effective Vaccine Management initiative, which guides proper storage, care, and use of vaccines. Nurses also receive training on WHO’s Reach Every District (RED) strategy, which aims to fully immunize every infant with all vaccines in the national immunization schedule. RED addresses common obstacles such as poor health district planning, substandard quality and unreliable services, and the inadequate monitoring and supervision of health workers. The program also provides training to improve data management, and then use that data to help plan maternal, newborn, and child health interventions.

The program is building one new cold storage facility and installing remote temperature monitoring devices in 17 others to protect vaccines—a vital component to safe and effective immunization programs.

Faith leaders in Zimbabwe promote World Vision’s immunization efforts. (Photo credit: World Vision)

To help create a culture of immunizing all children, the program has trained more than 200 Apostolic faith and other religious leaders to educate their congregations on the importance of vaccinations. The Apostolic faith community in Zimbabwe has historically been resistant to using modern medicine. Once trained, faith leaders, who are known and trusted voices in their communities, have proven effective at promoting child well-being. And once catalyzed, their congregations become another tool for engaging communities and advocating for maternal and child health interventions. Another 550 community volunteers also have been trained to help educate their neighbors on the benefits of immunization. They are equipped with educational materials and use radio, drama, and other tools to aid in the dissemination of this important information. World Vision also worked with local groups—including the Apostolic and other churches—to promote Vaccination Week activities.

Through December 2017, 18,512 children have been reached through immunization services promoted and supported by this program, which runs through Jan. 31, 2019.

*The Pfizer Foundation is a charitable organization established by Pfizer Inc. It is a separate legal entity from Pfizer Inc with distinct legal restrictions.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.