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Rwanda considers biometrics to improve child vaccination coverage

Rwanda considers biometrics to improve child vaccination coverage

Rwandan authorities are thinking about introducing biometrics as a way of ensuring that no child is kept out of routine immunization campaigns, New Times reports.

The outlet quotes the Manager of Rwanda’s Biomedical Center’s Expanded Program on Immunization Hassan Sibomana as saying that technologies such as fingerprint biometrics are being seriously considered so that health officials can easily determine if a child has been vaccinated against a particular disease or not.

Rwanda’s child vaccination system is already highly digitized, per recent World Health Organization (WHO) data released on July 18. The WHO data obtained in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows Rwanda has up to 98 percent vaccine coverage for diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

The report notes a general rebound in global immunization efforts as countries are stepping up measures including the use of technology to get vaccines reach many more children after the downtime caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Figures in the report indicate that over four million more children were vaccinated in 2022, as opposed to the year before.

The Rwandan official said reflections are ongoing by the government and other stakeholders on issues such as how funding can be sourced for the deployment of a biometric identification system which will be linked with other technologies in order to take up the already high child vaccination figures in the country.

Sibomana explained that a biometric identification system will allow for better collection of statistics and monitoring to be able to easily identify children who drop out of vaccine programs along the line.

There have been efforts in the last couple of years to introduce the use of technologies such as biometrics to improve the situation of child vaccination in developing countries where an estimated 20 million children are not vaccinated.

In 2019, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance sealed a deal with Simprints and NEC Corporation for the use of their biometric technologies for child vaccination in developing countries.

Last month, Kenya announced a biometric vaccination program pilot for newborns, a project that is the fruit of a collaboration among the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), NEC Corporation and the Japan Nagasaki University.

Rwanda also recently announced a legislative amendment to be able to issue digital IDs to stateless persons and newborns.

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