By Andrew Bishop Mkandawire

Use of influential people including chiefs, supervisors of community health workers, politicians, and religious leaders to demonstrate that Covid-19 vaccine is not lethal to Malawians, has proven fruitful as many areas in Neno and Ntcheu district that are known not to conform to health service seeking behaviors have finally accepted to get vaccinated ahead of December 2022 vaccination target of 50% of national population of Malawi.

As of September 2022, Neno district had reached a national target of 15/30 percent vaccination rate and Ntcheu was floating at 8.9/30 percent national target on vaccination.

We are glad that all myths and misconceptions that that dragged people from getting vaccinated are almost put to a rest and people can now get vaccinated although there is need for more awareness of the Covid-19 vaccine, especially how the vaccine protects someone from severe sickness or possible death,” explained Senior Chief Mlauli during Ligowe Covid-19 Vaccination Awareness Campaign. He added that “I just got a Covid-19 vaccine jab, have transformed into a beast of any kind?” he asked the gathering that participated in the event.

Senior Chiefs Inkosi Maluli Taking Covid-19 Jab in Neno DHO Van

Senior Chief Symon who also got the Covid-19 vaccine on spot during Lisungwi Covid-19 Vaccine Awareness Campaign shared that he was also frightened in the first place before he got the vaccine because he heard a lot of misleading information. However, the moment he got connected to health workers from Lisungwi health facility, head learnt a lot, now wonder did not even hesitate to volunteer as a testimonial for his community to get motivated to access the COVID-19 jabs.

Neno Director of Health and Social Services, Grace Momba, asked how her office could connive with Ministry of Health to eliminate lives of Neno people through Covid-19 vaccine. “Our job is to save people from diseases so that Malawi has healthy citizens. There is no hospital in Malawi that aims at killing Malawians.Get vaccinated and stay safe,” she appealed during Lisungwi awareness campaign.

Grace Momba encouraged Neno Communities to be Proactive in Accessing COVID-19 Vaccine

In Ntcheu, chiefs were also every supportive in ensuring their communities had left the campaign site with evidence that the promoted vaccines were not lethal to human beings.

Group Village Head Kakhobwe from Katsekera, T/A Mpando was the most admired chief to access Covid-19 vaccine because he has been boycotting community health workers call to get vaccinated for over two years. “You are are all my witnesses. If I die because of this Vaccine, you will tell and if I get to be alive by next week, you will also testify about the truth that this vaccine does no harm to people,” GVH Kakhobwe opened his testimony speech. “I’m very sure that whatever people have been speculating, it is not true because all the chiefs who got the same vaccine from June 2021 are all alive and very strong. So what are you waiting for?” he called on his communities to get vaccinated as well.

Traditional Authority Inkosi Chakhumbira, Group Village Head (GVH) Manjawire of ST/A Tsikulamowa, /A Chakhumbira, GHV Madzulo and GVH Lazalo of T/A Njolomole, and GVH Masese of T/A Ganya all got a platform to share their story of motivation on the importance of accessing the COVID-19 vaccine.

T/A Inkosi Chakhumbira got COVID-19 Vaccine on Spot During Lizulu Campaign

Ntcheu Director of Health and Social Services, Mary Jenya, shared that she got earlier before she got pregnant. Many threatened her that she would not survive the pregnancy that came immediately after getting the jab. “I can tell you that I have healthy baby girl and I have no problems in breastfeeding her. Do not listen to non-medical personnel, they only carry fake news and information,” she emphasized.

All the 12 COVID-19 vaccination awareness campaign sites were backed with health education sessions, testimonial sessions, and edutainment where Piksy, Miracle Chinga and Katele Ching’oma entertained Neno and Ntcheu communities.

Four campaign sites in Nano and eight campaign sites in Ntcheu were a success and 441 people got vaccinated with Manjawira in Nctheu 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.