Many decades ago, when it formed the centre of the international spice trade, Zanzibar’s traders were quick to recognise a solid return on investment. Centuries later, their descendants are united in their recognition of the value of vaccines: from mothers and fathers to nurses and officials.
Juma Haji, focal point for health
Kiyongwe village, 30km from Stone town
“We realise that our children’s health is getting better and better and one of the main factors is vaccines,” says Juma Haji, focal point for health in the village of Kiyongwe.
The villagers of Kiyongwe, who number 2,000, are so committed to the value of vaccines that they have started building their own health facility drawing on their own savings. The skeleton structure on the edge of the village, with no doors or windows, stands unfinished and in need of public funding to.
“The current health facility is too far away for our families,” says Juma, “when mothers and children have to go to hospital, they are ferried on bicycles. We don’t have any cars.” The wood and thatched huts of Kiyongwe, set amid green fields and banana plants, lies at the end of a potholed dirt-track that requires 4x4 trucks to drive in the rainy season.
“The entire community is happy to hear the news that two new vaccines (pneumococcal and rotavirus) will be introduced in January,” says Juma, “Our forefathers taught us that nothing is more important than having healthy children.”