Amman (Jordan), 28 January 2021 — UNODC has teamed up with researchers at the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) and the Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET), to launch an updated version of the Children Immunization App (CImA), successfully adapting to families’ particular needs in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
CImA app is a mobile phone application that was designed to support refugees in Za’atari camp; one of the biggest refugee camps in the Middle East with an estimated 80,000 residents and where smartphone ownership is high.
The aim of the first version of the app was to provide trustworthy and evidence-based information on vaccines and immunization campaigns for residents of the camp, while acting as a tool through which parents and caregivers could record the vaccination history of their children. After the proven success of CImA app within Za’atari camp, UNODC supported its enhancement to release a new version – with the support of Japan.
The re-launch of the app will continue to benefit families who were already subscribed to the first version, and also open up subscriptions for 1000 additional households over a period of two months. Depending on the learning outcomes, this pilot could be replicated elsewhere and benefit many other families in refugee settings or crowded communities worldwide.
The updated version builds on the success of its predecessor by providing tools for parenting and caregiving under COVID-19 that address the singular challenges faced by families living in crowded settings, where social distancing is not an easy feat to accomplish.
New features include automated reminders for upcoming vaccination appointments and COVID-19 parenting skills materials. These resources, developed by UNODC and made available in Arabic for the parents of the camp, will help to further support families during the pandemic by leveraging technology.
The enhancement of family skills for the prevention of substance use and violence (including against children) have also been at the core of its programmatic work over the last year, in line with the UNODC WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention.
However, COVID-19 related stress has posed a considerable challenge to the Office’s work on this front. Families worldwide now experience increased anxiety, strongly linked to the ongoing pandemic: either directly from preventive measures implemented to contain COVID-19 (such as school closures, physical distancing, working from home, etc.) or indirectly, from its socio-economic impact on families and communities (such as ongoing and anticipated loss of income, financial constraints, etc.).
These anxiety triggers, in turn, have exacerbated existing vulnerabilities within the social fabric, strongly affecting youth and their families. These very vulnerabilities are linked to the prevalence of negative coping mechanisms, including substance and alcohol use, violence, and more. That is why UNODC has additionally supported the roll out of the health app’s updates with accompanying didactic material, to better support the mental health of families living in crowded or refugee settings.
The app was first developed by the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) and the Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET), in collaboration with the Jordanian Ministry of Health (MoH), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and UNICEF. A seed grant from Grand Challenges Canada —funded by Canada— made its creation possible.
This app is now available through the Google Play Store.