Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and French telco, Orange SA, have committed to a five-year partnership with the Côte d’Ivoire ministry of health to increase immunisation rates in the 29 regions and districts where immunisation coverage is below the national average, or where drop-out rates are above 10 percent.
Orange and Gavi are jointly investing US$ 5.47 million in the “M-Vaccin” project with half of the funding coming from the Gavi Matching Fund, a mechanism financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which is designed to incentivise private sector investment in immunisation. According to a study carried out in 2015 by the Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI), the “M-Vaccin” programme could reach more than 800,000 children.
“Mobile technology is one of the best ways to reach most people,” Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Managing Director, Resource Mobilisation and Private Sector Partnerships at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance told Development Finance.
Saraka-Yao commented that the M-Vaccin-Côte d’Ivoire project uses Orange mobile technology to send messages from the ministry of health and immunisation specialists to a child’s parents in their local language. The messages and voicemails include information on the benefits of vaccination, the importance of prevention against potentially deadly diseases, the location of health centres and clinics where children can get immunised, and a reminder for the need to get a second or third dose of a vaccine.
“Since 2000, basic immunisation coverage in Gavi-supported countries has risen from 59 to 80 per cent,” added Saraka-Yao. “However, an estimated one in five children is still not vaccinated with a full course of basic vaccines.”
The obstacles to better vaccination coverage are interrelated and include a fast-growing population, poverty, and a lack of awareness. Saraka-Yao explained that Gavi attempts to tackle those issues through information management, supply chain administration and demand generation. Those efforts include using birth registrations to address discrepancies within data on the target population and the number of vaccinated children, keeping immunisation records, monitoring vaccine storage and supply levels and addressing the logistical obstacles to information delivery.
“Before, during and after the experimental phase, we work with our partners to make sure that they understand the local context and are able to define the users’ profile correctly,” said Saraka-Yao. “We also make sure that the beneficiaries are involved in the solution design in order to improve their experience and ownership as users.”
The initiative’s health impacts, scalability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness will be evaluated through regular monitoring procedures, integrating usage and impact analysis in collaboration with local partners. Furthermore, Gavi will consult with external service providers for the overall assessment of the project and depending on results, it would be extended to other countries in West Africa.