Seattle/Kinshasa, June 15, 2020 – Her excellency Fifi Masuka Saini, governor of Lualaba Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Chris Elias, President of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to improve vaccination coverage among children in Lualaba Province and thus save people’s lives.
Under the umbrella of the National Ministry of Health’s Plan for Immunization – the Plan Mashako pour la relance de la vaccination de routine – this three-year partnership will support all health zones across the province in reaching and maintaining a goal of more than 90 percent immunization coverage by improving cold chain and vaccine logistics, strengthening governance and management of routine immunization programs, enhancing technical capacity, bolstering community engagement and improving data management and analysis. Lualaba Province will lead the implementation of the MoU and committed to increase its funding contribution over the period for immunization activities. The Gates Foundation will provide funding, technical support, and advice along with technical partners.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has recently faced recurrent outbreaks of several infectious diseases, including Ebola virus, cholera, circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), and measles-rubella. This new partnership aims to stop transmission of cVDPV, keep the province polio-free and reduce child illness and deaths attributable to other such vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Routine immunization plays a vital role in saving and improving lives around the world,” said Chris Elias, President of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The Democratic Republic of the Congo has made important progress in improving its immunization and health systems in recent years. We must keep working together to ensure that every child is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases, including polio, measles, cholera, and pneumonia.”
“Beyond reducing the prevalence of vaccine preventable diseases, strengthening routine immunization programs creates additional points of contact between families and primary health care centers. In doing so, these programs lay the foundation for resilient health systems that can respond to a variety of disease threats, said Fifi Masuka Saini, governor of Lualaba Province. “This partnership will help us protect each and every child from devastating vaccine-preventable diseases and, in doing so, transform communities across the country. Therefore, the provincial government of Luabala confirms its commitment to adhere to this MoU for the children of the province.”
Dr Jean-Jacques Mbungani, Minister of Health in the DRC, underlines the need to continue working on routine immunization: “We have made enormous progress in improving access to immunization over the past two years. However, Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPD) still cause more than half a million deaths of children under five each year in Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo thanks the Gates Foundation and its partners for their continued support in preventing preventable diseases and protecting communities. Together, we can end these epidemics and protect the children of our country.”
About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman, under the direction of Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates, and Warren Buffett.
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