When COVID-19 vaccination was launched in Ghana, Gershon Kwame Osei, a non secular chief from Ave-Dakpa Neighborhood within the Akatsi North District of Ghana’s Volta area was one of many influential voices towards the vaccine as a consequence of myths and superstition.
Now, his advocacy and social mobilization work together with many others is producing demand and driving folks in direction of taking the COVID-19 vaccination. Osei is one among 900 community-based volunteers (CBVs) educated by the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Well being (GCNH) working in collaboration with the Ghana Well being Service and the World Well being Group (WHO).
Because of the work of the group volunteers, over 80 000 folks have been vaccinated over the three-month, between 01 Might to 31 July 2023, with about half receiving their COVID-19 vaccine for the primary time.
“Initially, I instructed my congregants to not take the vaccine as a result of I used to be listening to that it’s making folks sick,” says Osei. “I’m now properly knowledgeable and comfortable to be serving to to mobilize my folks for his or her vaccination”.
Well being authorities within the Volta area have been involved concerning the sluggish COVID-19 vaccine uptake, with fears that the declassification of COVID-19 as a public well being emergency will result in an extra decline in vaccination.
“Neighborhood members query us on why we proceed to manage the COVID-19 vaccination regardless of the declaration of the pandemic as no extra constituting a public well being emergency. That is negatively impacting vaccination protection”, says Dr Senanu Kwesi Djokoto, the Deputy Director for Public Well being within the Volta Area.
The area is amongst low-performing areas in Ghana with solely about two in each 10 of the final inhabitants finishing main collection of COVID-19 vaccination in contrast with the nationwide common of three in 10 as on the finish of April 2023.
As a part of efforts to assist Ghana maintain the vaccination drive, WHO with funding from the Authorities of Canada by way of the Canada Grant for Vaccine Fairness (CanGIVE) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, engaged the GCNH, a non-state actor with illustration in all areas to undertake advocacy, communication, and social mobilization in all districts and communities of the Volta area. The principle goal was to dispel myths and generate demand for COVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization.
“Though COVID-19 is not any extra a public well being occasion of worldwide concern, the virus continues to flow into and will come again stronger to trigger devastation as noticed in earlier waves of the pandemic,” says Prof Francis Kasolo, the WHO Consultant to Ghana. “We have to maintain the features, modify the strategy to demand technology, and guarantee those that want the vaccine, particularly individuals within the high-risk teams obtain them”.
The educated community-based volunteers (CBVs) carried out interpersonal communication inside the communities and leveraged soccer video games to carry the youth collectively for vaccination. WHO offered technical help to vaccination groups to undertake house-to-house vaccination workout routines together with the social mobilization efforts of volunteers.
“I believed the virus was no extra, so I didn’t need to return and take the vaccine. However my encounter with the volunteers has motivated me and I’ve simply taken a 3rd dose,” famous Christine Galley, a resident of Ave-Dakpa.
Well being staff are assured of the affect of the intervention as COVID-19 vaccination uptake has improved by at the least 20% because the rollout of the GCNH venture. The intervention has additionally strengthened group engagement and supply of different well being companies.
“Neighborhood members are demanding different companies along with COVID-19 vaccination. We leverage the help from this intervention to offer routine immunization, non-communicable illness screening, wholesome way of life counselling, and distribution of household planning commodities” says Prosper Amegadzie, a illness management officer working in Ho Municipal.
Ongoing efforts are already boosting the combination of routine vaccination and different well being companies with COVID-19 vaccination as sustainable and cost-effective, drawing on the synergies to revive routine immunization coverages to ranges earlier than the pandemic, whereas sustaining the uptake of COVID-19 vaccine.