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QRCS monitors COVAX vaccination campaign in northern Syria
Under its neutral vaccination monitoring program in Syria, Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) has started the monitoring of Phase 1 of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 vaccination campaign in northern Syria, as part of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Early in May, the Syria Vaccination Team initiated the campaign in Aleppo countryside, Idlib, and its countryside. Phase 1 involved giving the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to health and humanitarian professionals in the northern part of the country. This 25-day phase targets to cover 53,000 health and relief workers in 82 facilities. As a neutral organization, QRCS seeks to ensure compliance with international vaccination standards. In coordination with WHO, 30 well-trained field inspectors are deployed across the designated areas to enforce the campaign’s quality indicators, verify the readiness of vaccination centers, supervise the validity of injections and personnel performance, and make sure that no one is left behind. Other tasks of the monitoring teams include correcting any procedures that go beyond the campaign’s plan, applying Coronavirus preventive measures, identifying coverage rates during and after the campaign, and providing recommendations for the vaccinators. Typically, the monitoring process involves two phases. Prior to a campaign, the supervisors visit the main centers to make sure that all preparations and equipment are in place. Then, vaccine samples and storage conditions are checked for any inconveniences. The inspectors accompany the vaccinators to evaluate their performance at health centers and households. Finally, the results are reported to see what went right and what did not, as feedback to guide future operations. The first COVID-19 infection in northern Syria was reported in August 2020, and the first wave reached its peak in November 2020. Until 5 May 2021, the total number of confirmed cases is 21,995, including 655 deaths, according to the statistics of WHO and the UN Health Cluster in Gaziantep, Turkey. QRCS has extensive experience in monitoring vaccination campaigns against infectious diseases. Its representation mission in Gaziantep held brief training courses for the inspectors both at the mission’s premises and inside Syria, to qualify them to perform inspections, develop action plans, follow up with the work done, and document all results properly. Then, they become ready to be deployed together with the vaccinators to the target districts. Over the past seven years, QRCS monitored numerous vaccination campaigns in Syria, in cooperation with many UN, local, and international humanitarian organizations. It is a leading organization in this field, with its remarkable field, administrative, and technical expertise.