Wiping out disease
When children miss out on vaccines, the risk of disease increases for all — particularly urban poor communities.
Immunization is one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to protect children’s lives and futures, yet in 2017 more than half of the world’s most vulnerable children still miss out on essential vaccines they need to live healthy lives. In Cambodia, only 6 out of 10 children in the poorest households are vaccinated. UNICEF is working to boost vaccine coverage.
Health volunteer Sokly Ye (centre) explains to mothers the importance of vaccinations for child health in Svay Pak village, Cambodia. Disadvantaged urban poor communities like Svay Pak are disproportionately affected by disease, with many children lacking proper immunizations.
Sokly (left) speaks with mother Srey Ty (centre) to inform her about the vaccination session being held tomorrow at a mobile clinic in the village. Volunteers like Sokly ensure the community understands the immunization process and follows through with multiple vaccinations.
“Most of my children, the eldest is 18 now, have never been vaccinated. My youngest son is 6 and he was vaccinated only once after he was born in a health centre. I then forgot his immunization schedule and never had him vaccinated since” says mother Mom Sem, speaking to Sokly (left).
Many families earn just enough to survive and limited knowledge of public health services makes many unaware of what is available and affordable to them. Mobile clinics, such as this one, provide free immunization to protect children from unnecessary vaccine-preventable diseases.
A health worker holds a bag with vials of vaccines at the mobile clinic. Cambodia’s national immunization programme covers 11 diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis B, polio, measles, and tetanus. Children are scheduled to get them six times within the first two years of life.
A health worker prepares to administer a vaccine to a child at the mobile clinic. Since 2011, UNICEF has worked with the Municipal Health Department to improve newborn and child health services, including vaccination, from 26 to 183 urban poor communities.
In Lou, an urban poor community three kilometers away along the Tonle Sap river from Svay Pak village, health volunteer Khamvan Hem (right) meets mothers and explains the vaccination process. Hem works hard to get to know the community, regularly visiting them so they trust her advice.
“We started our vaccination session from 8 am and by 10:30 am, we provided vaccines to about 30 children and women. People here are mainly migrants from other places and rarely visit our health centre for services,” says Sreyneang Vun, a health worker at a mobile clinic in Lou.
A boy in Svay Pak smiles as he holds yellow vaccination cards, which are used to record which immunizations were administered. A day or two before the next vaccination session, health volunteers use the records to ensure that children due for another vaccine don’t miss out.
Children play in the Tonle Sap river in Lou village. Vaccines save 2 to 3 million lives every year, but far too many still miss out on the essential vaccines they need to survive and live healthy lives. If every child benefited from vaccines, 1.5 million more lives could be saved.
Learn more about World Immunization Week.