Read the transcript of our podcast interview with Christelle Mputu.
Christelle is currently working on implementation and monitoring of projects to improve government performance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Your work involves a lot of interactions with the provinces and health zone managers. Are you visiting provinces and remote areas frequently?
This year, I was supposed to but the pandemic stopped most of the activities we had planned in the provinces. Last year, I visited three provinces and it was interesting to see and discuss with provinces and health managers. Most of the interactions I had had with them were through emails and phone calls, so they were all like “you are Christelle, finally we get to see you”. It was funny how they all knew me before meeting me in person. Some EPI managers reported how famous I was in the provinces they visited.
Could you walk us through the vaccination process step by step?
We recommend the nurse supervisor to do the supervision during an immunisation session, that way we know if the activity was carried out well and if there were any stockouts.
Prior to supervisions in different facilities, the health zone organizes field visits, so the nurse supervisor can supervise facilities during immunisation sessions.
First, the nurse supervisor meets the health manager of the facility and makes sure the center has a functioning refrigerator with at least one-week availability of each antigen and input. The kind of supervision they undertake is mostly supportive, so if the facility doesn't have enough vaccines, the nurse supervisor not only tries to understand the reasons why but help find solutions with the manager. The data are recorded in the App, even offline. When the supervisor is the area with a good internet connection, they can upload the data collected.
Have you had the chance to participate in any of the vaccination sessions?
I assisted in some immunisation sessions. The first thing a health manager does is a sensitisation session with mothers during which he tells them the importance of each vaccine. He also makes sure that they understand that they need to come back for multiple doses based on the immunisation calendar.
The nurse also attends immunisation sessions to collect data on the number of children present for different vaccines, and on any stockouts. He also verifies if the session is conducted according to the standards of routine immunisation, makes sure the health center undertakes the monthly required number of immunisation sessions (number based the size of the target population). If these are not, he advises the center to increase the number of sessions in order to reach more children.
We recently added one more indicator of community engagement. During the immunisation session, the supervisor ensures that community volunteers are present. These are crucial for collecting children for multiple doses of vaccines.
I have not been able to go to an immunisation session since the start of the pandemic. In the beginning, like everywhere else in the world, people were worried and we saw a drop in the number of children in the immunisation sessions but the Department has done a lot of work through sensitisation campaigns on TV to encourage mothers to continue going to sessions.
What results are you as a team proud of (e.g. exact numbers/percentage) since last March versus now?
Thanks to the Mashako plan, 8,000 more immunisation sessions are being organised monthly. Three independent surveys done in the pilot provinces revealed stunning results; just in the first year, the project helped to immunise 70,000 more children.
Could you share with us your favourite memory of working at Acasus?
One of my favourite moments is the gatherings with other Acasus teams. It is really interesting to get to know other Acasus members and share experiences. Sometimes, I feel like I am in a bubble working on one specific project and get frustrated when things are not going my way, or when changes require a lot of effort and consistency. So interacting with other teams makes me realise that they also face the same challenges and in the end, we always get great results despite the obstacles that happen along the way.