Harare, Zimbabwe – The Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and WHO launched a new vaccine campaign introducing Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) into the routine immunization schedule across the country.
The campaign integrated the TCV with the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. In addition, children aged 6 to 59 months received a Vitamin A supplementation.
“The introduction of the TCV vaccination into Zimbabwe’s routine immunization is in line with the government’s plan to address typhoid. In the past the country had continued to be affected by typhoid outbreaks with cities like Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru being the epicentres due to chronic poor Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) conditions caused by water shortages,” said Vice President and Minister of MoHCC,Dr.C.G.D.N. Chiwenga.
“Against this background, the introduction of typhoid vaccines becomes a critical public health measure to complement government’s current focus on rehabilitating obsolete WASH infrastructures in our main urban centres,” added Dr Chiwenga
Before the discovery of antibiotics, typhoid would kill as many as one in five people who contracted it,” said Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director of Country Programmes at Gavi. “The rise of extreme drug resistant typhoid risks bringing us back to levels of mortality not seen since the 19th century, posing a risk to all of us. That’s why typhoid conjugate vaccine is so important and why the government of Zimbabwe deserves praise for introducing this lifesaver into its routine immunisation programme.”
UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale said: “Vaccines are one of the best investments we can make to give every child a healthy start and this vaccine is an important step toward our goal of addressing the high burden of typhoid in children. For too long, typhoid, which invariably affects the world’s poorest communities, has been neglected in efforts to improve global health. With this new vaccine, countries will finally be able to protect millions of children who are most vulnerable.”
Tendai Manyange of Chikuku Village in Bikita District is one of the Village Health Workers who were trained across Zimbabwe to encourage the uptake of vaccinations by educating their communities on the importance of vaccinating their children to improve health outcomes.
Using training manuals availed to every district across the country by the MoHCC, Tendai was able to cascade the knowledge to the communities resulting in a huge uptake of the vaccine.
“This year’s high attendance levels show that the community welcomed the vaccination programme. Even with the presence of outreach teams in the surrounding area, we still receive scores of people coming in for vaccination at our local health facility,” she said
MoHCC with support from UNICEF and WHO empowered Village Health Workers (VHW) across the country to advocate for and educate communities, and encourage caregivers to access vaccinations for children. VHWs have become a critical stakeholder in the Expanded Program on Immunization.
Dr Alex Gasasira, WHO Representative to Zimbabwe noted that Zimbabwe’s introduction of Typhoid conjugate vaccine through an integrated campaign actualized the strategic priorities of the Immunization Agenda 2030 that was launched by GAVI, UNICEF and WHO in April 2030. The campaign contributed to the strengthening of health security in Zimbabwe by preventing disease outbreaks due to Typhoid and Polio. The delivery of an integrated package of interventions during the campaign also increased access to services
The TCV campaign aims to vaccinate 6 million children and will be administered routinely to all children at 9 months of age to protect them from Typhoid fever which has become endemic with outbreaks continuing to affect communities – particularly children.
The TCV campaign, the first of its kind in the region, was made possible through funding from Gavi and the multi-donor Health Development Fund (HDF) supported by the European Union, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Irish Aid and Gavi.
Funding from Gavi and HDF covered the procurement of vaccines, distribution, and installation of Cold Chain Equipment to ensure that vaccines are kept under required storage conditions, UNICEF and WHO played an integral role in ensuring that caregivers and communities are aware of the benefits of vaccines.