Stopping wars for children

UNICEF has been able to conduct immunization campaigns and deliver humanitarian aid even in the midst of warzones through its groundbreaking work negotiating military stand-downs with all sides. UNICEF’s third Executive Director, Jim Grant, first applied the audacious idea of stopping wars for children by negotiating three “days of tranquility” in El Salvador in 1985 to order to immunize children. This was followed by UNICEF’s successful negotiations in Lebanon in 1987, in Sudan in 1989, and in Iraq in 1991.

Over the years, UNICEF has continued to negotiate many other ceasefires in warzones to ensure that the most vulnerable children in the world still have the right to grow up healthy, go to school and improve their lives.

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How to Play

Register as a vaccination specialist and watch the video brief about your mission. Now you are ready to face the real-world challenges of a vaccination campaign. Read through the seven scenarios and select the best approach. Your objective is to save as many lives as possible while staying within your budget. Remember, if you run out of resources before the campaign begins, you will not control an outbreak!

Help stop the deaths of millions of children every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.




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Proceed to the briefing room

Vaccines are incredibly low-tech and can cost as little as 20 cents. But despite enormous progress, immunization still has not reached its full potential. Millions of children die every year from diseases preventable by vaccines. Global health experts believe that by 2015, immunizations could prevent 4 to 5 million deaths a year. But, the longer we wait, the more costly and difficult the job will be.

Countdown: 6 Weeks to Vaccination Launch

Email from Dr. Khattar

Hi, I don't know if you've seen the news reports. There is trouble in West Darfur. While it's possible to conduct an immunization campaign in North and South Darfur, West Darfur is dangerous and insecure due to armed conflict between government and rebel forces.

Good Choice

It makes sense to play it safe, but since we’re not conducting the campaign in West Darfur, there will be a large pool of unvaccinated children in West Darfur at risk for becoming infected with measles and spreading the disease.

Nice Try

By postponing the campaign, we’ll risk creating a reboundin measles that may kill even greater numbers of unvaccinated children.

Good Work!

Due to your negotiation efforts, the government of Sudan and the Liberation Movement have agreed to a temporary, humanitarian ceasefire in Darfur. UNICEF will now able to safely vaccinate children, as well as deliver food, water, medicine, and other essential items. But time is running out.

Countdown: 6 Weeks to Vaccination Launch

Email from Dr. Khattar

Immunization campaigns often need to use special strategies to reach rural children. We can access the majority of the targeted children‚ those in the camps and in the neighboring host communities, using immunization teams in fixed locations. However, reaching the children in rural Darfur will be more difficult and costly. This will require complex planning and the use of mobile vaccination teams that will need to travel for several days to reach remote locations with poor transportation links.

Would you like to invest resources into reaching rural areas?

Good Work!

Reaching children in rural areas will be crucial to the success of this campaign. Children in these marginalized areas often lack access to routine health services, and are therefore less likely to have received the measles vaccine than communities in more accessible areas. Immunizing these children will give the campaign a much greater chance of success.

Nice Try

But reaching children in rural areas would have been key to the success of this campaign. Children in these marginalized areas often lack access to routine health services, and are therefore less likely to have received the measles vaccine than communities in more accessible areas. Without immunizing children in the hardest-to-reach communities, measles outbreaks may continue.

Countdown: 5 Weeks to Vaccination Launch

Email from Dr. Khattar

You must order measles vaccines, and the equivalent number of syringes and Vitamin A supplements, which are often added to immunization campaigns to strengthen malnourished children and save more lives.

Nice Try

However, more measles vaccines are usually required for a campaign than the initial number of children targeted. This can be due to numerous causes, such as more children being vaccinated than anticipated, loss of some vaccines to heat exposure, and damage during transportation. As a result, campaign planners generally order 10 – 15% more vaccines than the number of children targeted. Ordering less runs the risk of a shortfall. Ordering 2.75 million vaccines is recommended.

Good Work!

More measles vaccines are usually required for a campaign than the initial number of children targeted. This can be due to numerous causes, such as more children being vaccinated than anticipated, loss of some vaccines to heat exposure, and damage during transportation. As a result, campaign planners generally order 10 – 15% more vaccines than the number of children targeted.

Nice Try

More measles vaccines are indeed required for a campaign than the initial number of children targeted due to numerous causes, such as more children being vaccinated than anticipated, loss of some vaccines to heat exposure, and damage during transportation. As a result, campaign planners generally order 10 – 15% more vaccines than the number of children targeted. Ordering 2.75 million vaccines is recommended. Ordering more may strain limited financial resources and leave less money for the rest of the campaign.

Countdown: 5 Weeks to Vaccination Launch

Email from Dr. Khattar

Our vaccines will arrive in two weeks. The vaccine must be refrigerated at all times. You’ll need to establish a cold storage network: we call this the cold chain. It consists of freezers, refrigerators, cold boxes, thermometers, vaccine carriers, and icepacks, as well as maintenance. Unfortunately some of UNICEF's refrigerators and freezers have been damaged in transport.

Good Choice

Renting serves your immediate needs and is a cheaper option in the short-term. However, buying is a better option in the long-term as the cold chain equipment may be used in other campaigns.

Good Work!

Buying new equipment is the more expensive option in the short term, but it is better in the long-term as the cold chain equipment may be used in other campaigns.

Countdown: 4 Weeks to Vaccination Launch

Email from Dr. Khattar

We need to go over our plan to recruit and hire our temporary staff. This includes health workers to deliver and administer the measles vaccination; support staff (including volunteers) to set up the vaccination posts; and supervisors for each team. Our own crew has already canvassed regional clinics to recruit health care workers, and some of them even visited refugee camps to identify qualified workers. The bad news is that we were able to find only 75% of the workers necessary. 

Good Work!

This is the most costly option but recruiting and training nurses would be the best option because it enables you to follow the original campaign plan and it builds the capacity of the country’s health force—critical to strengthening routine immunization services.

Good Choice

If not recruiting from a nursing school, extending the length of the campaign is the second best option (especially if there are budgetary limitations) and often happens in emergencies given worker shortages. It will enable you to target the same number of children.

Nice Try

Scaling back the campaign in rural areas is the least favorable option. Without immunizing children in the hardest-to-reach communities, measles outbreaks will continue. The best choice would have been to recruit from a nursing school, if the budget allowed, followed by extending the length of the campaign.

Countdown: 4 Weeks to Vaccination Launch

Email from Dr. Khattar

The best-planned campaign can be worthless without proper communication activities to inform people about the campaign and the importance of immunization. 

Which of the following methods of informing parents do you think would be more effective in Darfur?

Nice try

While media campaigns are effective in some situations, they may not reach all displaced persons and marginalized communities, as in Darfur.

Good Work!

Conducting door-to-door outreach requires recruiting and training advocates, but it is also more effective in reaching displaced persons and marginalized communities.

Countdown: 1 Week to Vaccination Launch

Email from Dr. Khattar

I have just been notified of an urgent problem. In one of the marginalized communities that is a central focus of the immunization campaign, a rumor is spreading that vaccination could give children HIV/AIDS. I am sure you realize that this could potentially derail all of our efforts.

Good Choice

Taking out additional advertisements will have some positive impact, though it’s not as direct or forceful as getting help from local leaders.

Good Work!

Trusted local leaders are often the most effective at dispelling false rumors due to their credibility in communities.

Nice try

National government spokespeople are sometimes effective, but in situations of civil conflict where the government may lack credibility using government spokespeople could raise suspicions and have a negative effect.

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Be Part of Our Mission: Immunize Every Child

The Measles Initiative, led by UNICEF and its partners is an ambitious plan to work with governments and communities to carry out disease surveillance and mass vaccination campaigns around the world. Thanks to a united effort and generous support we have vaccinated over 1 billion children since 2001 and reducing measles deaths by 78% between 2000 and 2008.

But shortfalls in funding are challenging these successes and causing a resurgence in measles outbreaks. Both routine immunization and supplemental immunization campaigns are urgently needed to reach unvaccinated children. Left unchecked, a rebound in measles could result in an estimated 1.7 million additional deaths globally in 2013.

UNICEF believes in the day when ZERO children die of conditions we can prevent, treat or cure.