Immunisation in Islamic countries

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To mark World Immunization Week, pictures at the GAVI Alliance's photo exhibition at the UK Houses of Parliament in London show the value of immunisation against diseases such as pneumonia, rotavirus, polio, measles and tetanus, the need for life-saving vaccines, ways in which the antigens are delivered and the challenges of delivery in four Islamic countries: Pakistan, Sudan, Zanzibar in the United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

Boys in the rural village of Bani Mareh, south of Sana’a. Yemen has an impressive national vaccination coverage rate of 81 percent and the Yemen Health Ministry estimates that for every US$ 1 spent on vaccination in the country, US$ 20 are saved in out of pocket healthcare costs, including lost income, extra food during treatment and selling off assets to cover medical expenses.

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GAVI/2013/Sala Lewis

In the mostly Islamic archipelago of Zanzibar, 90% of newborn children now receive basic childhood vaccines.
“Immunisation is an investment for the future,” says Juma Duni Haji, Zanzibar’s Minister of Health, highlighting how vaccines bring cognitive development, education achievement, labour productivity, income, savings and investment. "If we have healthy children, they will attend school more regularly, they will be better able to learn and they will play a fuller role in our society. In the future, they will become productive adults."

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

Immunisation sessions give health workers rare contact with families to provide additional maternal and child health care services. Mwatima Khamis, a nurse in east Zanzibar, conducts outreach visits to ensure children who do not live near a clinic are still being vaccinated on time. During the immunisation sessions, she gives mothers advice on keeping babies well and healthy.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

Three generations of a family turn-up for a vaccination session in the village of Chinkowindi. Health workers explain that a decade ago, villagers were suspicious of vaccines, but witnessing the powers of modern medicine firsthand is changing minds.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

Al Agmour Health Centre, Ali Abdulla waits with his four-year-old son Ahmad, who is recovering from pneumonia, the leading cause of death in children under-five in Yemen. In February 2011, pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against the leading cause of pneumonia, was added to every child’s immunisation card in Yemen. Globally, GAVI plans to support the immunisation of 70 million children with pneumococcal vaccine in 57 countries by 2015.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

An intravenous drip was needed to replace the essential fluids that Samah Suraj, aged one, lost through a severe diarrhoea infection – one of the biggest killers of under-fives both in Sudan and globally. During the rainy season, when diarrhoea is more prevalent, there can be three babies to a bed in this crowded diarrhoea ward.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

As a childhood victim of polio, Usman Shangla, aged 32, ensured his eldest children were vaccinated against the crippling disease. Usman decided not to vaccinate his youngest son Musharaf, after hearing false rumours about the vaccination campaign. Musharaf contracted polio early this year, but is responding well to intensive treatment.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

With measles spots still visible on her stomach, two-year-old Falak Naz, is suffering from one of the most frequent complications of common measles infection – pneumonia. Falak’s three older sisters also caught measles but have all recovered. Pakistan’s recent measles outbreak has claimed the lives of some 500 children and is an alarm call for the country’s health authorities, as they struggle to balance routine immunisation with campaigns designed to tackle individual diseases like polio.

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GAVI/2012/Sala Lewis

Mothers wait at a health clinic for their children to receive a double dose of life-saving vaccines.
In December 2012, with GAVI support, the United Republic of Tanzania, including the predominantly Islamic communities of Zanzibar, introduced pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines simultaneously to protect children against the leading causes of pneumonia and severe diarrhoea – two of the main killers of children.

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GAVI/2012/Sala Lewis

Zanzibar’s Health Ministry reports that there are no longer cases of measles, neonatal tetanus or polio, in part due to the introduction of the pentavalent vaccine, which protects children against five diseases – diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b - with one shot. “We have a strategy to reach every child with vaccination and we engage communities in planning and implementing it,” says Yussuf Makame, manager of Zanzibar’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

In July 2011, Sudan became the first GAVI-supported African country to introduce a new vaccine protecting children from rotavirus, the leading cause of severe infant diarrhoea. It was a day of national celebration for Sudan, where diarrhoea is one of the biggest killers of under-fives. “We worked so hard to make sure everything was prepared,” says health worker Nagala Idris Mohammed, “It was like a festival here!” With the support of the GAVI Alliance, 36 countries around the world will immunise 30 million children with rotavirus vaccines by 2015.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

Rukhsana Masood Raja runs immunisation sessions out of her own front room, and gives basic healthcare to her community in the village of Pind Sweeka. “I make sure that all children in my village are vaccinated,” Rukhsana says, “I don’t have any children of my own, but after 10 years, all the children here are my children.” Pakistan’s 100,000 “Lady Health Workers” form the backbone of basic health care throughout the country, with some 14,000 receiving additional vaccination training thanks to GAVI support.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

Hasan Abdul Salam flinches as he receives his second dose of measles vaccine in Dhoke Jeelani village near Islamabad. The two-year-old is several months late for the vaccine because his family recently moved, but mother Asma has ensured that all of her three children receive the potentially life-saving vaccine. “Children need to be immunised,” she says, “for us to progress, we need to have healthy children.”

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

Health workers carrying vaccines wade out to the sailing boat they will use to reach children living on the islands of Zanzibar. From Zanzibar’s archipelago to the mountains of Arusha, geography and climate represent a formidable obstacle to the Tanzanian Health Ministry’s efforts to reach the eight percent of its population who do not have access to basic life-saving vaccines. Modern vaccines must be kept cool, so the vaccines are stored in a cold box packed with ice.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

Local Imam Qari Saifullah calls villagers to bring their babies to the home of the local health worker for immunisation. “When I make an announcement, people pay attention,” he says. “Religion has an important role in the prevention of illness.” Reaching out through community leaders to remind families to bring their children for vaccination is a critical step to increasing immunisation coverage in developing countries.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

When Yemen added the pneumococcal vaccine to its national immunisation programme in 2011, health workers at the Zahwari Medical Centre carried out the painstaking but vital task of registering vaccination cards. Collecting data is a critical challenge for immunisation programmes. Health officials can track coverage and monitor impact as well as assess the efficacy of each vaccine.

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GAVI, PATH/2013/Doune Porter

Lal Bah Khan comforts her four-month old son Abuzar Khan, who is on the mend after a bout of pertussis. More and more children are missing out on routine vaccines, because internal conflict makes it difficult to immunise displaced families like Khan’s. “We were trying to get him vaccinated,” says Lal Bah, “I know how important it is.”

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