Recording COVID-19 health messages for a vaccine awareness campaign.
Increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake is essential to achieve herd immunity so people can return to work and social activities
In Ghana, though many people are eager to get the vaccine, others are reluctant and mistrust the vaccines and vaccination process. Good behavior 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 are partnering to sensitize rural communities about the vaccine.
An audio recording session with a Tumu Municipal disease 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 about coronavirus vaccine safety and effectiveness. We distributed Talking Books to 202 Community Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) centers and community health volunteers (CHVs). CHPS nurses and CHVs 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 of Ghana is vaccinating frontline workers, mostly in the major cities. So, now is the right time to educate and sensitize rural communities, to prepare for mass vaccination across the country. Sadly, vaccine arrival in Ghana came with false news, miscommunication, and rumors. Through the delivery of accurate and consistent messaging, with the Talking Book as a communications channel, we aim to raise awareness about vaccine safety and motivate people to get vaccinated.
Raising awareness about meningitis, too
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 signs and symptoms, modes of transmission, and measures people can take to reduce risk.
Building on our COVID-19 public health campaign
Our COVID-19 vaccine sensitization effort builds on the emergency response public health campaign we conducted last year (Mar-Dec 2020), in partnership with UNICEF and Ghana Health Service. For that campaign, we loaded Talking Books with messages about COVID-19 risks, prevention, and treatment, domestic violence, social stigma, and mental health. Talking Books allowed 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.
To learn more about Amplio Ghana's 2020 COVID-19 public awareness campaign, you can watch a video about the project.
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.