Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance announced in April 2023 that it is beginning a “push” to reach zero-dose children through a Zero-Dose Immunisation Programme (ZIP). The programme will target millions of children in “some of the hardest to reach communities”. The focus will be on two regions: the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. This is the first time that Gavi funding is “channelled” through two international civil society organisations: The International Rescue Committee and World Vision.  

Gavi pays it forward 

In 2022 Gavi disbursed $9 million to fund the inception phase of ZIP. This year it is disbursing a further $28 million. The total $37 million funding is part of a wider $100 million that Gavi has committed to the ZIP.  

The announcement of this funding coincides with “The Big Catch Up” for World Immunisation Week, where WHO and partners are encouraging a global effort to increase vaccination among children after a pandemic-driven decline.  

Partnerships and tailored projects 

Gavi states that the programme will ensure a focus on local partnerships. Furthermore, the approach in each region will be “tailored”. Thabani Maphosa is Gavi’s Managing Director of Country Programmes Delivery. He is hoping that “targeted investments” will enable Gavi to reach children in need. 

“The Zero-Dose Immunisation Programme is taking on our toughest challenges, working with new partners and new innovations to access communities in humanitarian settings.”  

The funding will be shared across a range of projects and pilot programmes as well as the implementation of a “learning agenda” to “identify and develop the best methods and practices to reach children living in fragile, conflict, and cross-border settings”. These projects include: 

  • Permanent and mobile cross-border transit vaccination posts and outreach to insecure areas in Sudan to ensure that children living outside government reach, as well as mobile populations and refugees, have access to immunisation services. 
  • Leveraging Care Groups in Mali, CAR, and Niger, to empower communities to equitably reach every beneficiary household and boost demand for immunisation. 
  • Fixed, mobile, and extended outreach in Chad and Burkina Faso, complemented with a strategic Reach Every District/Community approach. 
  • Integration of the ZIP project into the national health system using technology information system in Nigeria and Cameroon. 
  • Research in Somalia to better understand health care providers’ perceptions of vaccines and immunisation and gender-related barriers to access. 
  • Engaging community and religious leaders in South Sudan on the importance of vaccination in hard-to-reach areas. 
  • Community dialogues with high-risk communities in Ethiopia, to help communicate and address barriers to immunisation. 
International Rescue Committee 

Shife Demissie, Project Director of the Gavi REACH programme, IRC, said that “65,000 zero-dose and under-immunised children” have already received the DTP vaccine and “over 160,000 children” are receiving measles-containing vaccine.  

“The IRC is applying innovative approaches in these settings including optimising immunisation service points and context tailored delivery approaches to increase access. These include use of geo-spatial mapping, population data…negotiating humanitarian access…utilising civil society-led models for effective, inclusive vaccination programmes.”  

World Vision 

Dr Enrique Paz, Chief of Party for Raise4Sahel, stated that World Vision has “extensive experience providing immunisation services to communities in humanitarian and fragile settings”.  

“World Vision’s approach to reaching zero-dose children includes implementing emergency vaccination strategies, utilising novel logistics equipment, and integrating Nutrition, WASH, Gender, Interfaith, and demand generation approaches.” 

Dr Paz emphasised that partners will bring specific expertise to “innovative approaches”.  

Will your community benefit from this funding, or do you think more investment should be directed to children in your area? How can we encourage greater uptake of vaccination in hard-to-reach children?

Read more about ZIP here.