In a bid to increase immunisation rates in Ivory Coast, the country’s Ministry of Health has announced plans to enter into partnership with the Orange SA and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The partnership is to ensure lowest vaccine coverage in some remote villages.
The “M-Vaccin Côte d’ Ivoire” project uses Orange mobile technology to inform parents about the importance of vaccination by sending text and voice messages in the local language. Targeted messages will also help ensure parents don’t miss immunisation sessions by reminding them of their children’s schedule and dates.
“This new partnership is truly innovative and important for the children of Côte d’Ivoire,” explained Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “Parents often do not receive enough information about the importance of immunisation because they live a long way from health centres or in hard-to-reach places. These voice and text messages should therefore have a significant impact and lead to an increase in vaccine coverage.”
In addition to sending voice and text messages, Orange will provide health workers with a M-Vaccin mobile app. It will enable them to accurately capture data from the communities and populations they are in contact with. With this they can create a personalised immunisation schedule for each family, which will improve monitoring and reduce the number of children who do not receive vaccines.
“The Orange Group is pleased to partner with Gavi and the Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Health to make a concrete contribution to this large-scale vaccination programme. Orange is convinced of the power of digital tools to support the most isolated populations in Africa, both in the health sector and in other areas such as education and financial services,” added Bruno Mettling, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Orange Group in charge of operations in Africa and the Middle East. “Health is a priority for Orange, and the Group is playing an active part in developing the latest digital innovations and supporting healthcare players in achieving digital transformation.”
The partnership will last five years and will be implemented in the 29 districts of Côte d’Ivoire where immunisation coverage is below the national average, or where drop-out rates are above 10%. According to a study carried out in 2015 by the Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI), the “M-Vaccin” programme should reach more than 800,000 children. It could also be extended to other countries in West Africa after an impact assessment.
“Thanks to this partnership between Orange, Gavi and the Ministry of Health, we hope to make a real impact on national coverage in these districts by sending targeted voice and text messages in local languages,” said Dr Raymonde Goudou Coffie, Côte d’ Ivoire Minister of Health and Public Hygiene. “The Ministry of Health is working with partners like Gavi to keep those target populations better informed about the importance of vaccination. The solution, which will be made available to community health workers, will also make it possible to closely monitor pregnant women and children and to reduce the number of people lost to follow-up.”
Orange and Gavi will jointly invest US$ 5.47 million in the “M-Vaccin” project over a period of five years. Half of this funding will come from the Gavi Matching Fund, a mechanism financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation designed to incentivize private sector investment in immunization.
Since 2001, Gavi has supported Côte d’ Ivoire in the introduction of 11 vaccines and is providing funds to support health services to improve vaccination coverage.