By Etienne Mainimo
Actions for Development and Empowerment (ADE has initiated conversations on vaccine equity to obtain citizens’ perceptions of health care service delivery as well as sensitize the population on the importance of vaccination.
On July 28, 2023, ADE organized a meeting with the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) focal points in Buea, Southwest Region, to examine the performance of the EPI in strengthening immunization coverage in the Southwest Region and in Cameroon in general.
During the meeting, healthcare workers raised several concerns and challenges they go through daily as far as vaccination is concerned.
“We have difficulty with Vaccine supply; when we go to take vaccines, they say vaccines are not available. Like the Rufarex vaccine, many patients came and left without taking it, said Celia Beringwe. They also attested to the fact that the BCG vaccine for children, ATC, is always low in supply, as is the COVID vaccine, which was unavailable during the second coverage.
Apart from the fact that the number of teams deployed for campaigns did not match the percentage of the population in the given area, healthcare workers also pointed out that the Lack of Motivation of EPI nurses was also a major concern, as some of them used their funds as transportation to go for training
However, some recommendations were outlined to strengthen immunization coverage in the Southwest region. Some of these suggested that EPI workers working in a particular district should be assigned to vaccinate in that community to solve the problem of trust.
Also, the government should ensure proper communication on vaccination before vaccination campaigns to avoid hesitancy from the population, send vaccines promptly and in large quantities to avoid shortages and motivate EPI staff financially for their efficiency.
Presentations were done on the dangers of non-vaccination and its effects on the population, the expanded program on immunization in the South West Region and success stories, government measures in ensuring immunization coverage and its effectiveness, and an analysis report on COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Africa: “COVID-19 vaccination, contextual analysis, and training manual.
ADE also carried out a sensitization campaign on Thursday, July 27, 2023, at the Muea market, Buea.
A team made up of three ADE personnel, five community mobilizers, the head of the communication unit for EPI, South West Region, a publicity agent, and ADE’s brand ambassador for #saveonesaveall; Auntie Felicia, stormed the Muea market and sensitized vendors and buyers on the importance of vaccination while presenting to them vaccines available in the region.
The citizens expressed their concerns concerning vaccinations. Among other things, they stated that the reason for their reluctance towards vaccination is due to a lack of adequate information from health personnel on the usage and side effects of vaccines.
They also mentioned that they do not trust some health personnel who are deployed to carry out vaccinations, especially in open spaces, as everyone has gotten into the process and they cannot differentiate who is authentic or not, hence the reason for their reluctance.
Promoting vaccine Equity is part of the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project in Africa, which aims to encourage conversations about vaccine equity, distribution, hesitancy, and government commitment to the health sector.
CTAP is a project sponsored by Skoll Foundation and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in partnership with Connected Development, CODE, and Follow The Money International which is currently the largest social mobilization and accountability movement in Africa.
ADE is a non-governmental organization created in 2019 to empower youth to act on issues surrounding them. ADE’s thematic areas include good governance and democracy, girl child education, and education for sustainable development goals.