The Burden of Internal Conflict on Expanded Programs on Immunization in Northwest Ethiopia: Implementation Science Study
Background: Despite the rapid progress in immunization service delivery systems worldwide, populations in areas of conflict often have limited or no access to lifesaving vaccines. Hence, evidence generation and translation for context-specific strategies and tailored action would be important, before, during and after an acute humanitarian emergency.
Aim: To explore factors affecting immunization service delivery during and after conflict among internally displaced communities in Northwest Ethiopia.
Methods: Qualitative and quantitative (record review) methods were applied, phenomenological study design and in-depth interviews were applied to collect the lived experiences of participants in the affected areas. Transcribed and translated data were analyzed and thematized using open code software. A Twenty-four-month record review of quantitative data was analyzed descriptively using an excel sheet to develop immunization coverage trends for tracer antigens.
Results: We found that the immunization program had seriously deteriorated during and after the conflict in the study area. The monthly EPI service report in the affected areas showed a decline with the lowest records in December and January when the internal conflict was peak. Security problems, displacement of health workers, destruction of health infrastructures, mixing of the displaced community in the host community and poor coordination among stakeholders and partners, clients having other emergent needs and shortages of resources were important factors for immunization services.
Conclusion: Vaccination service delivery was found to have significantly declined in the study area. Security problems affected not only the service utilizers but also the service providers’ wing as well. Coordination of stakeholders and strong leadership systems are crucial in maintaining optimum vaccination service delivery even at the time of conflict. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2021; 35(SI-3):39-48]
Key words: Conflict, internally displaced, Immunization services