Increasing demand for and acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine is essential for achieving herd immunity that will help people return to work and other social activities. 

In Ghana, though many people are eager to get the vaccine, others are reluctant and mistrust the vaccines and vaccination process. Good behaviour change communication about the vaccine safety and effectiveness can help promote acceptance.

In a public opinion poll conducted by iRIS Research, about six in ten adult Ghanaians (56%) said they are likely to take the COVID-19 vaccine if the government makes it available. Out of the total of those who said they were not going to take part in the vaccination, 61% said they were not sure if the vaccine was clinically safe, 53% indicated they were not well informed about the vaccine side effects, and 35% said they were not sure if the vaccine was effective in protecting them from the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Ghana government is targeting to vaccinate 70% of the population to reach its herd immunity threshold. In the Upper West Region, Amplio Ghana and Ghana Health Service have launched public awareness to sensitize rural communities about the vaccine.

Recording COVID-19 vaccination messages with Tumu Municipal disease control officer

COVID-19 vaccine safety promotion recording session with the Tumu Municipal Disease Control Officer

Sharing Accurate Information on COVID-19 Vaccines

To help the Upper West Region’s municipal and district health directorates make way for COVID-19 mass vaccination, Amplio Ghana and GHS experts teamed up to produce audio messages on coronavirus vaccine safety and effectiveness. The messages have been deployed to 202 Community Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) centers and Community Health Volunteers through the Amplio Talking Book. CHPS nurses and Community Health Volunteers in eight districts—Nandowli/Kaleo, Jirapa, Lawra, Nandom, Lambussie, Sissala West, Sissala East, and Wa West—are using Amplio’s technology to educate their communities about the benefits of the vaccine. The messages are produced in four languages: Dagaare, Lambussie Sissali, Kassim, and Tumu Sissali.

Currently, the government is vaccinating frontline workers and key people, mostly in the capital cities. Now is the right time to educate and sensitize rural communities, to prepare for mass vaccination across the country. The vaccine arrival in Ghana came with false news, miscommunication, and rumors. That’s why we’re working to share accurate and consistent vaccine information, using the Talking Book as a communications channel. Our goal is to increase awareness of COVID-19 vaccine safety and motivate people to get vaccinated.

Raising Awareness about Meningitis

For this Talking Book deployment, we included messages on cerebral spinal meningitis (CSM), which is also a health risk in the Upper West Region. Of the 303 CSM cases in our region last year, 44 people died. In comparison,  all 90 COVID-19 patients fully recovered and were discharged. In February, the Upper West Region health director confirmed 59 new cases of meningitis. Though there are vaccines for meningitis, most people resort to herbal and over-the-counter medicine, only reporting at hospitals in the late stages of the disease. This is the cause of many deaths recorded, as most patients are brought in at the dying moment. Therefore, there’s a need to increase knowledge of sign and symptoms, modes of transmission, and measures people can take to reduce risk.

Building On Our COVID-19 Public Awareness Campaign

Our COVID-19 vaccine sensitization campaign builds on the emergency response awareness campaign we conducted last year (March-December 2020) about COVID-19 risks, prevention, and treatment. With Talking Books, we enabled CHPS nurses to overcome language barriers in their communities and deliver accurate and consistent health messages. In a household survey conducted in August 2020, 80% of respondents reported Talking Books helped to increase their knowledge about the coronavirus.

For more information about our 2020 COVID-19 public awareness campaign, you can watch a video about the project on Amplio’s YouTube channel.

Fidelis Awonodmo Da-Uri is Senior Content Manager for Amplio Ghana. A musician and expert on audio content creation, Fidelis designs and produces songs, dramas, interviews, and endorsements about health, gender, sustainable agriculture, child protection, WASH, climate change, and more! He is a frequent guest on his local community radio station.

 

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