By Andrew Bishop Mkandawire

FPAM through Nzatonse project supported Neno and Ntcheu districts Health Offices to get to hard-to-reach areas to call upon people to get Covid-19 vaccine while enjoying the live performance of Piksy, Miracle Chinga and Katelele Ching’oma. It has been learnt that areas that were hard to vaccinate even one community member, some members opened for vaccination because of edutainments, use of influential leaders, thorough health education sessions and availability of COVID-19 vaccine.

Neno district being one of the districts that is disadvantaged in terms of health information flow and number of testimonials to dispel myths and misconceptions regarding COVID-19 vaccine, community members showed up and some got vaccinated on spot after successful health education and testimonials appeals. “We really struggle have Neno people vaccinated because there are deep beliefs and demonize COVID-19 vaccine as 666 as well as linked to cause to male infertility,” said Martha Rukunya from Neno District Hospital. “Sometimes we visit several households but very few or sometimes non respond to access the vaccine. Its is encouraging to see the same people accepting the Covid-19 jabs right here at awareness campaign,” she added.

Rukunya providing COVID1-19 vaccine to Anne Fulandison and Orison Chamwala During Chekucheku Awareness Campaign

Some youthful community members who got vaccinated from Neno awareness campaigns shared that the edutainment hooked them in and upon learning of the benefits of Covid-19 vaccine, they decided to access vaccine. Cornelio Nazario 16 from Ligowe said, “I have learnt here that that people who get sick of COVID-19 do recover quickly if they got Covid-19 Vaccine than those who did not vaccinate. I just want to be safe,” he said. Anne Fulandison 35 said, “I do not believe that all the people we hear got vaccinated they stopped giving birth and they are not dead. I have just learnt enough, and I opted to become one of those testimonials to shut up all false and fake claims that demonize COVID-19 vaccine

In Ntcheu district, some areas are well informed about the benefits of Covid-19 vaccine while other areas still need more information reach to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding Covid-19 vaccine. “We do vaccinate people without problem, but we need more attractive ways to ensure many people the messages and vaccine in an interactive way as FPAM has done,” Gerald Gunde who reports to Manjawira Health Center, Sub T/A Stikulamowa, Ntcheu. “Sometimes we stay the whole week without anyone vaccinating even when we do door to door vaccination campaigns,” said Masese 1 clinic site Disease Control Surveillance Assistant (DCSA) Brian Madula.

The DCSA for Katsekera Health Center Jonathan Kacheyo wondered why such educative and interactive campaigns do not happen often especially in times that communities need to more information and testimonials to dispel myths and misconceptions to enable people demand health services. “Look, GHV Kakhobwe, T/A Mpando has finally accepted the Covid-19 vaccine which will prompt many people from his area to follow suit. Had it been that this event did not happen here, he could still hold on to wrong information regarding Covid-19 vaccine,” he expressed his satisfaction.

DCSA Kacheyo vaccinating GVH Kankhobwe of T/A Mpando

The DCSA Nelson Chinsima from Sub Traditional Authority Mtukumula of Ntcheu district who reports to Bilira Health Center said, “More young people need to get vaccinated and bringing interactive and educative sessions like this campaign that we are able to see famous artists right here among other kinds of interactions including local dances and traditional musical artists, would surely create demand for the COVID-19 vaccine.”

In Ntcheu district, community members who got vaccinated on spot during Covid-19 vaccine awareness campaigns shared that their close contact with community health workers helped them to clear out fears that were speculated against the vaccine. Enipher Samson, 35 Representing Jehovas members from TA Mpando said, “Our church encourages good health and continued physical interaction and accepting health workers call to vaccinate was not a problem.” Elizabeth Sabiti 19 from ST/A Mtukumula also indicated that her close link with community health workers who also conduct door to door health service provision, and it was easy to understand more about Covid-19 vaccine through health education sessions.

Elizabeth Sabiti Gave Testimony that COVID-19 vaccine does not cause infertility in Youth

Neno and Ntcheu COVID_19 Vaccine awareness campaigns saw 441 people getting vaccinated with Manjawira in Ntcheu and Lisungwi in Neno standing recording higher figures of 74 and 53 people vaccinated respectively while Dambe in Neno and Masasa in Ntcheu vaccinated less people at 9 and 12 respectively. The figures recorded was a success because Neno and Ntcheu DHO’s gave FPAM areas that are hard to vaccinate.

The COVID-19 vaccination awareness campaigns were an extended N’zatonse project tha aisms promoting community access to SRHR/IIV/GBV comprehensive information and integrated services in Neno and Ntcheu districts.