From: Alice Taylor
UNICEF Works to Ensure Continued Delivery of Childhood Vaccines in Albania

UNICEF has been working to re-establish primary health care services such as routine vaccinations, in Albania and the region as a gradual lifting of lockdown measures continues.

According to their 5th situation report on the Novel Coronavirus in Europe and Central Asia Region they have been supporting the planning required to increase routine immunizations, nutrition services, and WASH in schools and health facilities.

The Chief of the WHO had recently warned that COVID-19 is putting children at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases as vaccination numbers have dropped.

UNICEF issued a statement that was promoted on social media in Albania, to direct public attention to the importance of vaccinations as a vital civic responsibility. 

The report noted that “ensuring the continued delivery of routine immunization programmes has been challenged by the pandemic, with services sometimes having to be rationalized to address the outbreak, or delivery options having had to be reconsidered to adequately protect health workers and individuals receiving vaccinations.

UNICEF stated that vaccine procurement is currently underway in Albania and that the prospects for restarting routine health services appear positive.

They also continued to support actions to intensify mass media and social media messaging, connecting millions of families and children with advice on managing lockdown. Programmes were implemented not just in Albania but in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey amongst others.

In terms of education, UNICEF is leading and supporting a COVID-19 task force for Child Protection, aimed at child protection, children with disabilities, education, and social protection. Last week, UNICEF delivered online training via Zoom for 55 representatives of local departments in education to help them provide social-emotional and academic support to at-risk children in the context of the COVID-19 emergency.

Weekly webinars with child protection workers are also being held to share experience and lessons learned through the crisis, as well as to identify specific challenges and support needs.

It has also delivered essential PPE and hygiene supplies including sanitizers and soap to hospitals, children in refugee/migrant accommodation, vulnerable families and NGO partners.

The report also detailed that UNICEF finalised payment for humanitarian cash transfer to support over 1500 households with a one-time payment. This is designed to help municipalities reach families who are not covered by the current social protection programme.