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Keywords:

  • dropout rate;
  • Gokwe South;
  • immunisation;
  • Midlands Province;
  • vaccination coverage;
  • Zimbabwe

Gokwe South, a rural district in Midlands Province, Zimbabwe, reported the lowest rate of immunisation coverage in the country in 2005: 55 per cent of children vaccinated with three doses of diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus vaccine (DPT3) and 35 per cent dropout between the first and third dose of DPT. In January 2007, the authors assessed local barriers to immunisation and proposed strategies to improve immunisation rates in the district, in the face of nationwide economic and political challenges. A situational analysis was performed to assess barriers to immunisation using focus-group discussions with health workers, key informant interviews with health management and community leaders, and desk reviews of records. Responses were categorised and solutions proposed. Health workers and key informants reported that immunisation service delivery was hampered by insufficient availability of gas for cold-chain equipment, limited transport and fuel to conduct basic activities, and inadequate staff and supervision. Improving coverage will require prioritising gas for vaccine cold-chain equipment, identifying reliable transportation or alternative transportation solutions, and increased staff, training and supervision. Local assessment is critical to pinpointing site-specific barriers, and innovative strategies are needed to overcome existing contextual challenges.