UNODC and partners pilot the Children Immunization App (CIMA) in Cameroon, Central Africa

 
   

The UNODC collaborated with researchers at the Center for the Study and Control for Communicable Diseases of the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of the University of Yaoundé, the Karolinska Institute and TwoWings Foundation, to launch on first of March 2022 an updated version of the Children Immunization App (CIMA) app in Cameroon, to support parents and children in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vaccination component of the app provides trustworthy information about vaccines preventable diseases, the benefits of vaccines, as well as about the COVID19 pandemic in Cameroon where children are affected by HIV and therefore adherence to their vaccination schedule is very important.

Further to that, the CIMA app entails a parenting component. The parenting skills information is provided by the UNODC. These resources developed by UNODC and made available in English and French for the parents, will help to further support families during the pandemic.

According to Dr. Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, “Using mobile Apps to nurture and support family skills help to prevent drug use. Technologies are important and align with the UNODC’s strategic vision for Africa to make 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development a reality.”
   

Nurturing and supportive family skills are essential for the prevention of mental health problems, substance use, violence (including against children) and many other negative health and social consequences. In stressful circumstances, caregiving faculties are especially compromised and could further benefit from specific support. Such work has also been at the core of UNODC prevention programmatic work over the last few year and in line with the UNODC WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention. 

However, COVID-19 related stress has posed a considerable additional challenge. 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. Dr. Wadih Maalouf, Coordinator of UNODC global Programme on Prevention  “Vaccine access and tackling misinformation are core elements of health support. UNODC supports caregiving competencies under stress as a social vaccine preventing negative social and health outcomes in youth and leading to their healthy and safe development. The CIMA app is a wonderful example combining both vaccination elements. Wonderful to see Cameroon as the first African country benefiting from this app.”

That is why UNODC has additionally supported the roll out of the health app’s updates with this accompanying caregiving didactic material, to better support the mental health of families living in stressful, crowded or refugee settings.

The app will be implemented in two formats: form of a smartphone app used by the parents who own smartphones. The app will have built-in reminders for the parents, as well as supportive skills on parenting (200 children).

A clinic-based app that will send the reminders and supportive skills in form of SMS on a weekly basis (200 children).

The launch in Cameroon, follows the successful implementation experience of the CIMA App in Al-Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan A short video presenting the content of the CIMA App can be watched here.