At Kagboray Chiefdom in Sela Limba Chiefdom – Karene District, officials of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) – Directorate of Primary Health Care, Health Education Programme, UNICEF, traditional leaders, youth groups amongst others; have pointed out success in the vaccination exercise concerned with the fight against COVID-19.
Harold Thomas who doubled as the Health Education Programme Manager and Lead for Risk Communication at MoHS narrated that the Community Led Action (CLA) approach, account for community led mobilizers, working in peers and thus referred to as community health workers. He pointed out that community leaders such as the pastors, imams and the like have immensely contributed in the fight against COVID-19.
In her statements, Cindy Thai Thien Nghia who is the Social and Behavioral Change Specialist- UNICEF underscored UNICEF’s commitment in the fight against COVID-19 and where she disclosed that UNICEF in 2021 joined MoHS in responding to the COVID pandemic.
She emphasized that community engagement is important in bringing about social and behavioral change and she went on to state that more than 3,000 community members – precisely 5 communities in the districts have been engaged. She continued to mention that as of July 2022, UNICEF has extended support to 8 other districts of the country with 6,000 communities reached including hard to reach communities.
Nghia explained that UNICEF is bent on creating the collaboration between the mobilizers and the communities which assures sustainability of the health system way beyond COVID-19.
She highlighted that in November-December, UNICEF accounted for 20% vaccination in targeted communities and she went on to state that within the space of 6 months, the UN Agency accounted for about 76% of community members whom have taken about 76% of at least a dose of the vaccine.
Furthermore, she noted that there are accountable instances where communities have taken almost 100% of the vaccine in less than 3 months and she thereby commended by referring to such communities as very cooperative with vaccine intake.
Delips S. Kanu – Program Manager GOAL (Bombali and Karene District) explained that the mobilizers were well enlightened about COVID and amongst the action plans taken, has to do with mobilization of community members whereby disclosing that there are 130 community mobilizers which include 13 supervisors drawn from each of the chiefdoms in the district.
He described the mobilizers as role models who helped in raising awareness by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and provided with blue cards. He went on say with these cards, fears and misconceptions over the vaccine would be laid to rest.
Isha B. Kamara who is a medical nurse attached at the Kagboray Hospital underscored the importance of the vaccination exercise and where she stated that at first it was very difficult for moblizers to convince the locals to take the vaccine.
She enlightened that the government could not in any way bring drugs in the country to harm people and therefore, she encourage the people to come out in numbers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Abdulai S. Bangura who is a community mobilizer expressed his appreciation for being trained by health officials in the fight against COVID. He admitted that as community mobilizer, he has been actively involved in countering misconception over the coronavirus.
Bangura disclosed that as a result of the robust sensitization undertaken, the COVID-19 marklate has been taken by many members of the community.
Mina M. Conteh who is a youth advocate stated that many misconceptions over COVID have been tackled where she admitted that there were misconceptions of women taken the COVID vaccine could not produce children and by extension, their hands and feet risked being paralyzed as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Mariama Conteh – a community mobilizer in the fight against COVID said that she has been involved in sensitization concerned with hand washing, social distance and wearing of face mask – which she considers very important in the fight against COVID-19
Chief Pa Sorie Kargbo, throws light on the importance of vaccination where he noted that as chiefs, they have played integral role in the COVID fight. He disclosed that initially, the denial rate was very high and members of his family tried to discourage him not to take the vaccine but he refused citing that as a chief, he should lead by example for community members to feel confidence in taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He acknowledged that so far, many members of his community have taken the COVID-19 vaccine.