Stories coming from Lolanga-Mampoko district in Equateur province often focus on the challenges communities face in accessing health care. I see these challenges every day and work with partners to help communities overcome them. But not all of our stories are about challenges. For this African Vaccination Week, we are celebrating what we have achieved over the past year.
The initiative NGCA (Next Generation of Supply Chain or Nouvelle Generation de la Chaine d’Approvisionement in French) helped to turn around the situation in Lolanga-Mampoko. With supply chain improvements came increased availability of vaccines at local storage sites. This in turn enables health workers to increase the number of routine vaccination sessions and vaccination outreach. There are three notable changes:
- We have more than doubled vaccination sessions, which is among the key indicators of health district performance. While in 2016 there were less than 100 vaccination sessions completed, in 2017 we achieved over 200. These include both fixed and advanced strategies, where health workers organize strategies to find even one child who is not coming to the health center.
- In 2016, the health district was in Category 2 for the quality and accessibility of services. In 2017, it moved up to Category 1 thanks to increased availability of vaccines and other health commodities.
- Our data management has improved significantly, allowing us to accurately forecast stock levels while maintaining the quality of vaccines we transport, store and use.
To achieve these results, I spent more time in the field with the health workers to better understand their challenges and provide them support. Each month, I scheduled visits to the storage facilities and 13 health centers in my district – using these visits as an opportunity to provide guidance and advice to improve access to vaccines. Many health workers had limited experience in correctly recording and using data, I spent time with them on different data management tools, explaining the importance of each and assisting them to complete each form. At each visit at the health center, I provided them with feedback and recommendations for further improvement. The majority of the health workers at these 13 health centers are becoming more confident and we have seen the beginnings of a culture of using data for decision-making.
The achievements of the NGCA have already helped us reach more children in Lolanga-Mampoko with life-saving vaccines. My goal is that by next year’s African Vaccination Week, we reach 90% vaccination coverage for all antigens so that children in our district receive the same vaccines as any other child. By working together and ensuring the availability of vaccines at the last mile, we can make sure #vaccineswork for all.