Zero-dose children in Digagouda receive vaccines at last!

Over the years, the island’s inhabitants and those of Dana mainland lived harmoniously until an incident in 2022 created a rift between them. In 2022, a man from Digagouda died mysteriously in Dana, and the people of Digagouda accused those of Dana of killing their kinsman, raising tension between the two communities to the point where Digagouda people banned anyone from Dana from entering their community for any reason. This ban was extended to healthcare workers from Dana who were unwilling to conduct outreach campaigns, including vaccination sessions. This rendered delivering healthcare to this hard-to-reach community complex and life-threatening.

People had to mount a lot of courage to accept crossing over for outreach activities three years ago. The conflict has worsened the case as no service provider wants to put their life on the line to a community where they would not be welcomed.” Benard, R4S Vaccinator, explained.

Digagouda is an island community in the Logone River, located about 24 km from the leading health facility in Dana Health Area. Getting to Digagouda from Dana involves a 30-minute crossing of the Logone River by canoe and then a 7 km walk through the forest. While its location has attracted fishermen, farmers and traders from Chad, who explore the natural resources and trading opportunities along the Cameroon-Chad border, it poses a challenge for health workers to conduct outreach activities routinely.

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For three years, no outreach team visited Digagouda. However, determined to leave no one behind, R4S brokered negotiations with the leaders of Dana and Digagouda and other stakeholders for vaccination teams to access Digagouda. The ZIP vaccination team lead for Dana led a delegation to mediate and help find common ground to allow vaccination teams to enter and vaccinate Zero-dose children (ZDC) and underimmunised children (UiC). After multiple attempts, the fourth mediation session bore fruit, with Digagouda leaders granting access to vaccination teams on the condition that the vaccination session be held outside the village.

Zero-dose children vaccinated at last!

The first vaccination session was held on January 16, 2024, during which the team identified and vaccinated 95, including 31 ZDC and 19 UiC. Thanks to the R4S initiative, the children of Digagouda received life-saving vaccines to protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases and go a long way to reduce the risk of their community becoming a reservoir of outbreaks.

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