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Source: Save The Children

A healthworker giving a child vaccination in Posyandu. 

Progress in Child Health

This week marks World Immunization week (24-30 April 2024). This year, we want to champion the fact that in just 5 decades we have gone from a world where the death of at least one child was something every parent expected, to a world where every child has a chance. If they get their vaccine.  

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2022 there were 14.3 million zero-dose children. While this marks an improvement from previous years impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, many children still lack vaccine protection. In 2022, an estimated 4.9 million children under 5 years old died from mostly preventable and treatable causes. And this is despite the fact thatimmunisation is one of the most effective public health interventions money can buy, an indisputable human right and a key component of primary health care. 

Posyandu cadre giving counseling session in Posyandu, Central Lombok – Indonesia. Nesya Tirtayana/Save the Children Indonesia

Protecting children’s health in Indonesia 

Indonesia prioritizes immunization as one the focus areas under the National Health Development Programme to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The commitment to prevent, eliminate, and eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases is reflected in the national target of achieving 100% coverage of routine immunization programme. 

Save the Children Indonesia is working hard to reduce the number of children under 5 years dying from preventable diseases, especially pneumonia through a plethora of different programmes 

STOP Pneumonia programme was launched in Indonesia in 2019 as a part of Save the Children’s centenary commitment to end preventable deaths from pneumonia in under 5year-old children.The STOP Pneumonia campaign programme focuses on increasing awareness leading to changes in the behaviour of the target public, strengthening the capacity of health workers, implementing delivery services for beneficiaries, intensive cross-stakeholder socialization, social mobilization and parenting campaigns to strengthen father’s roles in the family through: protect, prevent, and treat. Since then, Save the Children Indonesia has been continuously working and supporting the Indonesian Ministry of Health in improving immunization coverage and introducing new vaccines. 

Save the Children Indonesia, generously supported by Charles Monat Associates, has set up the Fighting Against Childhood Pneumonia project to reduce the number of children dying from preventable causes before their 5th birthday. The project supports Posyandu activitie. Posyandu is an integrated health post that provides integrated monthly service sessions (monthly Posyandu Day) for mothers and children under the age of 5, covering overall child health, such as weighing, counseling on growth/development, immunization, and family planning.This includesimmunization sessions wheremothers or caregivers will be informed about the benefits of immunization. 

Posyandu activities also depend on the valuable role of Posyandu Cadres. Posyandu Cadres are Community health volunteers, almost exclusively women. However, educational sessions are normally conducted by trained cadres. Health promotion to prevent Pneumonia or any preventable diseases, mandatory schedules for child immunization, and nutrition (exclusive breastfeeding and complementary foods) are included in these educational sessions. 

Posyandu cadre giving group health session to nothers with children under 5  in Central Lombok – Indonesia. NesyaTirtayana,Save the Children Indonesia 

Save the Children also has supported Central Lombok district in increasing immunization coverage, by conducting crash immunization sessions targeting under-immunized children.  

We did two rounds of crash immunization in 29 villages across five selected Community Health Centre catchment areas from November 2022 to 2023. A total of 2,853 children were identified as under-immunized from the Community Health Center’s report. These children were listed by trained community cadres during door-to-door surveillance, and vaccination posts were set up within the community in collaboration with vaccinators and the respective health center to ensure all children got vaccinated. 

Rohmaniyah’s story 

Rohmaniyah is a mother to children under 5 who lives in Tibu Siso Village, Central Lombok district. She has always participated in Posyandu activities starting from her pregnancy period, after delivery, and even still does now that her baby is 3 years old. Rohmaniyah said: 

“What I benefited from the most with Posyandu is that it really helped me to immunize my child. This is because I don’t have to travel far to go to the health facility just for immunization. Before, I had to travel 8-9 km to reach the Puskesmas (sub-district community health center) if my child got sick. Now, I just participate monthly in Posyandu and I can maintain my child’s health status. 

“The educational sessions increased my knowledge a lot related to children’s health and about complementary foods for breast milk, which really helped me. Alhamdulillah, by participating in Posyandu, my child has received immunization for 2 years now and is fully vaccinated.”  

Rohmaniya’s story and Save the Children Indonesia’s work vividly show that we can make it possible for everyone to benefit from the life-saving power of vaccines – because it is humanly possible.  Our journey towards a world where every child is immunized, protected and thriving is not merely a dream but a collective responsibility we must tirelessly pursue, for the sake of generations to come. As our founder said, “Humanity owes the child the best has to give” Eglantyne Jebb. 

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