Encouraging collaboration between education and health to increase access for the most marginalised communities, Education Above All Foundation (EAA) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, have extended their partnership to launch integrated immunisation projects in Ethiopia and Kenya, supported by Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD).
In conjunction with EAA’s Educate A Child (EAC) programme and its ongoing education project with Save the Children Korea (SCK), the initiative in Ethiopia aims to support the country’s overarching target of 90% immunisation coverage at the national level and at least 80% in each of the 11 targeted districts in the host community and three refugee camps in the Gambella Regional State of Ethiopia. It aims to increase uptake of HPV vaccination amongst girls aged 14 and child vaccination amongst children under one-year-old, reaching 108,183 children with immunisations and 995 adults, who will receive related training over a period of 12 months.
Meanwhile, the immunisation project in Kenya, which intersects with EAA’s ongoing education project with UNICEF, will be implemented in 16 arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) counties in three zonal areas of Garissa, Kisumu and Lodwar as well as urban informal settlements in Nairobi with high numbers of out of school children. Over the next two years, the project aims to reach 257,400 girls who are both in school and out of school in Kenya.
UNICEF’s immunisation and education projects will work closely together to ensure that communities are mobilised to increase school enrolment and that girls receive the HPV vaccine when they reach 10 years of age. The education project will benefit from the network of community health volunteers and facility-based health workers to advocate for school enrolment, while the immunisation programme in the targeted counties will benefit from the network of schools and teachers to reach communities with messages on cervical cancer and HPV vaccine.
Both projects come as an extension of EAA and Gavi’s partnership aimed at supporting health, development and education access in some of the world’s most marginalised communities.
H.E. Mr. Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari, Director General of Qatar Fund for Development, said: “Qatar Fund for Development supports GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance’s mission to save lives to protect the world’s poorest against the threat of pandemics. We are pleased that the recent contribution by Qatar Fund to GAVI has paved the way for a new strategic partnership between our long-lasting strategic partners Education Above All and GAVI. Through this strategic partnership, an integrated immunization programme will be launched in Nigeria targeting more than 100,000 children and women. Furthermore, we are looking forward to the upcoming signing of projects in both, Ethiopia and Kenya which align with Qatar Fund’s goal of ensuring healthy lives and well-being for all.”
Mr Fahad Al-Sulaiti, CEO of Education Above All Foundation, said: “We are delighted to strengthen our existing partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in a joint effort to promote immunisation coverage in Ethiopia and Kenya. We recognise that children are more likely to enrol and remain in education if they are healthy. EAA is committed to working with local communities to advocate for school enrolment and ensure access to quality primary education for the most marginalised. Together, through our existing education project, we will engage local and regional stakeholders to generate a marked improvement in health practices and mobilise resources at a time when they are most needed.”
“When education and health come together, sustainable change happens. We entered into our partnership with EAA last year in order to enhance awareness around health challenges and shape health-seeking behaviours", said Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. "Today, with the support of the Qatar Fund For Development, we are launching two integrated education and immunisation projects in Ethiopia and Kenya that will aim to reach over half a million of the most marginalised people over the next two years. To reach those millions of children who still miss out on lifesaving vaccines every year, these are exactly the kind of innovative partnerships we need. Let us not leave anyone behind."
“Save the Children Korea has been supporting out of school children through an education project with Educate A Child since 2019. Children in Ethiopia face a high risk of exposure to polio and cervical cancer, and lack access to essential vaccination support due to COVID-19. Through this immunisation initiative, the project has enormous scope to reach hundreds of thousands of children with life-saving vaccines that will protect them from preventable diseases and thereby improve their chances of regular school attendance and healthy cognitive development. We certainly anticipate a positive impact upon SDGs 3 and 4 by collaborating with and integrating our work with Educate A Child and Gavi,” said Gabriel Taeyoung Jung, CEO of Save the Children Korea.
“Girls in the ASAL counties of Kenya were already among the most disadvantaged children in the country, and they have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, including school closures and reduced uptake of vaccination,” UNICEF Representative to Kenya, Maniza Zaman, said. “Every child has the right to an education and to health care. In Kenya, this new partnership will improve learning and immunisation for an additional quarter of a million girls. I would like to thank Education Above All Foundation, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Qatar Fund For Development for their support.”
Despite consistent strides in ensuring access to essential primary healthcare and nutrition services for women and children over the last two decades, Ethiopia reports substantial variations in child mortality rates across the country. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has added pressure on the national health system and disrupted immunisation services further.
The immunisation project will identify children living in the areas where EAC and Save the Children’s education project is being implemented and engage teachers and Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) members of supported schools. It will address some of the key barriers to vaccination in the region, including lack of immunisation service availability and cold chain equipment; lack of service providers and training; data inconsistency and shortage of reporting; low community awareness; and inadequate support.
In Kenya, the National Vaccines and Immunisation program (NVIP) offers vaccination against 14 diseases including cervical cancer - the most common female cancer in women aged 15-44 years in the country, with an estimated 5,250 new cases and 3,286 cervical cancer deaths reported each year. To address the leading cause of female cancer-related deaths in Kenya, it is critical to involve the education sector, community leaders and parents to ensure girls receive the recommended two doses of HPV vaccine.
Key outcomes of the project’s approach are to focus on increasing demand for HPV vaccine from community and caregivers of girls using school and community platforms; increased availability and access to the HPV vaccine; and strengthened evidence generation to track implementation of education and immunisation.