For Rustam Nabiev, immunisation is not a luxury: it is a basic health service that should be accessible to every child everywhere.
This simple principle led him to co-found Shifo, a non-profit NGO dedicated to improving child health worldwide by strengthening health service delivery.
“I have understood my purpose in life, to be part of a community to save children’s lives,” he told Vaccines Today. “Together with my family, friends and colleagues, we created Shifo.org, a Swedish organisation, to develop and implement innovative tools and methods to save children’s lives.”
One of Shifo’s flagship projects is the MyChild system which seeks to ensure children receive immunisation services in low-resource settings, around the world.
“We are working towards a day when no child dies or suffers from preventable diseases. At Shifo, we are figuring out ways to make this dream a reality,” says Rustam.
MyChild is an information technology platform that includes a number of applications to support child health services. It has been designed to address issues in vaccination service delivery in underserved areas.
The system supports child registration, individual follow-up on children’s vaccination plan and other preventive health services which are part of preventive child health service delivery.
“MyChild ensures children are registered and receive unique IDs – either at the health centre where they are born or at home,” says Dr Nabiev.
This electronic system allows services to be planned and equips health workers with the tools to follow up on children while eliminating unnecessary administrative work associated with paper-based systems.
Real-time data and information provided by the system facilitate informed decision-making, helping local doctors and nurses to meet national and WHO clinical guidelines. MyChild was developed based on research done at the Karolinska Institutet and was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The system is provided free of charge.
By registering their children, families increase their opportunities to access healthcare and other services they are entitled to. MyChild benefits health workers too by providing them with an easy way to follow-up on vaccination and other preventative health services.
For decision-makers, the real-time data and information provided by the system helps to identify service gaps so that these can be addressed.
It is already having an impact and is set to be scaled up. One of the first countries to embrace the system is Uganda. MyChild is used in 48 health centres in the Mukono and Wakiso Districts in Central Uganda.
To date, more than 42,000 children have been registered in the system and in excess of 10,000 have been fully immunised. Shifo believes that around 1 million children can benefit from the project in Central Region, Uganda.
In September 2015 Shifo started collaboration with Plan International Uganda and IKARE to scale MyChild System in the Tororo and Dokolo Districts, Uganda, and a new partnership with the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan and IKEA Foundation to roll out MyChild System in Afghanistan.