Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mondays with the Minister: Vaccines and Immunization

On Monday, 9 January, I held the first Mondays with the Minister of 2012. It was a great start to the New Year. The topic of yesterday’s discussion was “Vaccines and Immunization in Rwanda.” We hosted the discussion on Twitter, and, through my new partnership with the Rwandan company Nyaruka, we were also able to integrate SMS into the discussion and received messages on that platform as well. Anyone who wishes to view either the Twitter or SMS discussions can do so here:


During #MinisterMondays yesterday, I received many questions, including:

  • What has been most important achievement in the past few years regarding the immunizations? 
  • Can you describe Rwanda’s involvement in efforts to find an HIV/AIDS vaccine?
  • What are Rwanda’s experiences with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and treatment for pneumonia and are these two complimentary?

I posed a few questions for all participants as well, including:

  • What do all you think is financial/human/moral cost of failing to implement 100% of possibilities provided by vaccines?
  • Question for all: Developing an HIV vaccine is only longterm gender-equitable solution to pandemic. What do you think? 

It was a fantastic discussion and I learned from participants what some of their concerns are concerning vaccines and immunization. I can see that the reach of this forum is expanding and more and more people are beginning to communicate through these platforms. One thing I remarked during this last discussion was that several complaints were voiced (that were unrelated to the topic of this session). From this experience, I realized that the Ministry of Health must improve its sensitization of the population and empower people to use local outlets for complaints and concerns when their rights are not respected. There are faster ways to have your complaint heard in Rwanda, and to make individual and collective rights fulfilled!

Thank you all again for a great discussion yesterday. I look forward to connecting with you all – and more participants – again on 23 January. The next #MinisterMondays topic will be “Gender and Health.”

Follow along on Twitter or by SMS on Nyaruka