This article originally appeared on the Boost Community Bright Spots. Below is an excerpt.
Zambia’s sixth national census was set to take place in August 2020, based on a pre-census enumeration survey that was held in 2019, but funding challenges, as well as a global pandemic, led to a postponement to 2021, and then again to 2022. The delay caused concern among immunization professionals in the Chinsali District of Muchinga province as they rely on data collected from this survey to plan for routine immunizations and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Without this critical information at their disposal, vaccination service planning depended on broad assumptions about where people and infrastructure were located. Layered onto this was the challenge that census data, when present, was aggregated at the district level and was not granular enough to inform micro-planning efforts. These challenges had been a continued point of frustration for immunization professionals. Many resorted to hand-drawn maps to get a better sense of the region and the population distribution and to help inform their work.
A solution to this challenge arrived in November 2020, when Geo-referenced Infrastructure Development Data for Development (GRID3) partnered with the Health Information Systems Program (HISP) to deliver maps to Chinsali, which included key insights for immunization micro-planning, including information on population (by age and sex), settlement locations, boundaries, points of interest (i.e. health facilities), and health facility catchment areas. At the time, health workers in Chinsali district were in the process of micro-planning for routine immunization services and were in need of accurate data to support their efforts.