Covid Immunization Campaign Targets Mobile Communities Along Gambia-Senegal Border: Over 1,500 Vaccinated

IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting the Ministry of Health in The Gambia roll out an awareness raising campaign with complementary inoculation against COVID-19 targeting mobile populations along The Gambia’s 749-kilometre border with Senegal.

The campaign has vaccinated 1,500 people in 60 border communities in the North Bank and Upper River regions since December 2021. The campaign involves working with health educators and community leaders in each region, to ensure that information provided is well understood.

Mobile populations along the historically porous border between The Gambia and Senegal tend to be more vulnerable to the spread of the disease and are also often hardest to reach with health information and services due to their remoteness and distance from regional health facilities.

It complements other ongoing vaccination efforts in a country where only 20 per cent of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Health.

“COVID-19 is still with us,” said H.E. Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, The Gambia’s Minister of Health. “We all need to get vaccinated to break the cycle of transmission. The vaccines are safe and effective and are available. I encourage people to get vaccinated so that we can live our lives as we used to.”

The spread of the Omicron variant has seen the number of COVID-19 positive cases in The Gambia once again surge at the beginning of 2022. Over 1,500 cases were registered in January, an almost 400 per cent increase from December 2021 the Ministry of Health reports.

“With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU launched new initiatives and adapted its programmes to better respond to The Gambia’s needs,” said H.E. Corrado Pampaloni, the European Union Ambassador to The Gambia. “This support to the Ministry of Health, with a focus on border areas, is crucial for improving the vaccination coverage rate,”

From March to May, the Ministry will be implementing three more phases of the campaign in the Central River, Lower River and West Coast regions. IOM continues to advocate for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccination for vulnerable populations, including migrants, IDPs, and affected communities.

“IOM has always advocated that we view the pandemic from the lens of mobility,” explained Fumiko Nagano, IOM’s Chief of Mission in The Gambia. “This is why our outreach efforts continue to target populations that are mobile across borders, in locations where health care is not as secure. We are optimistic that the awareness campaign will reach more communities and encourage more people to take the vaccine.”

The campaign is supported by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration and funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.

Since the start of the pandemic, IOM has been a key partner for the Ministry’s Risk Communication and Community Engagement efforts. Over the past two years, IOM supported the Ministry to engage over 25,400 persons in border communities, with funding from the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.

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