Program Stories

A plan that begins with engagement and listening

“Globally, 25 million children are unvaccinated against measles and are at risk of illness and death. In Bobasi, Kenya the Red Cross working with the Ministry of Health identified specific vaccination barriers which the country’s immunization managers can act on.”

Globally, routine vaccination coverage had stagnated at 86% for three doses of the combined diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and pertussis vaccine (DPT3) and now with COVID-19’s added impact has fallen to 81% (a standard indicator used to measure routine immunization coverage of the percentage of surviving infants who have
received DPT3). To reach under- and unvaccinated children, the American Red Cross International Services Department (ISD) responded with an innovative plan to take a complete look at the situation and address it while making use of its network of volunteers and healthcare professionals already in place, named the 5-Point Plan.

The first step of this 5-Point-Plan is to work with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and in-country Red Cross or Red Crescent volunteers to go door-to-door, locating
under-vaccinated and unvaccinated children. The second step? Engaging community leaders and key focal persons such as religious leaders and teachers, to conduct interviews with the people who love and care for the children to determine why their vaccinations were missed.

With this information in-hand, the American Red Cross meets with the local government, community-led organizations, and additional partners like the World Health Organization and UNICEF as step three, to share the needs and concerns of the caregivers and frontline health workers.

Barriers to getting vaccinated now identified, the fourth step is fixing these issues, in collaboration with MoH and local organizations, and once completed, the in-country Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers return to the caregivers with the news that they were seen and heard, that the support they needed was available and that their concerns were addressed. In the fifth and final step, an evaluation is conducted of the entire plan’s process to see what worked well and prepare it to be shared in other communities.

The International Health domain is supporting a grant to ISD to further expand the 5-Point Plan to other country and geographical contexts, including urban informal settlements. With this grant, ISD will also incorporate maternal and child health (MCH) into the 5-Point Plan and administer a small grants program to community-led organizations to co-design interventions, with communities, that directly address the identified challenges for MCH services.