Ignorance can only be overcome by knowledge

Interpersonal communication and communication with the media in the promotion of vaccination against COVID-19 and regular immunization of children and youth in FBiH

Almir Panjeta for UNICEF
Na pravi način prezentirati relevantne informacije o imunizaciji
UNICEF/Panjeta
25 June 2022

The first series of workshops for medical workers in Sarajevo, Mostar, Travnik and Zenica concluded with a workshop on strengthening interpersonal/direct communication about vaccines/vaccination against COVID-19 in addition to mandatory immunization and communication with the media.

Organized by the Institute of Public Health of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), with the support of the UNICEF Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), a total of 16 workshops were planned during the period between April and December 2022.

"Many perceive that interpersonal communication is not at a desirable level, but in our daily work ,no one questions our clinical knowledge and skills, but the way we convey messages to people who are focused on health. The topic is particularly relevant nowadays when vaccines as the greatest medical achievement are being questioned, when the hesitancy is increased, and people face fears and dilemmas. We must be as skilled, strong and ready to talk to people and give them correct and relevant information to dispel all doubts, fears and dilemmas, ”says Dr Aida Ramić-Čatak, Institute of Public Health of FBiH and one of the lecturers.

Participants of the workshop are health workers appointed at vaccination points, those who provide immunization services in family medicine clinics, hospital health care - especially COVID departments, pharmacists, staff of the care institutions, centres for healthy ageing and the volunteers of the Red Cross of the Federation of BiH.

"These workshops for medical workers are very important. Ignorance can only be overcome with knowledge, and this is one of the best ways to showcase relevant available information, present it to people in the right way and help the right information reach the end user ", says Borko Rajic, pediatric oncologist at Mostar clinical hospital and one of the lecturers at the workshops.

Na pravi način prezentirati relevantne informacije o imunizaciji
UNICEF/Panjeta
Na pravi način prezentirati relevantne informacije o imunizaciji
UNICEF/Panjeta

"These workshops for medical workers are very important. Ignorance can only be overcome with knowledge, and this is one of the best ways to showcase relevant available information, present it to people in the right way and help the right information reach the end user ", says Borko Rajic, pediatric oncologist at Mostar clinical hospital and one of the lecturers at the workshops.

Family medicine specialist Zumreta Bihorac-Kučuk from the Health Center in Sarajevo points out that despite her extensive experience, this training has opened up some new perspectives: "As health professionals, we often have the opportunity to give statements to the media, and it is important to know how to provide accurate information about pressing topics. As for the workshop in general, it is well designed and implemented, and we all came out with a lot of new knowledge that will be useful to us in later work. "

Edina Pačuković, from the Red Cross of Orašje, says that her previous knowledge was further enhanced: “I think it is important that health workers, but also the general population is aware of the benefits of immunization. Health workers, and those who help them in their work, should have a lot more information, like those we received at the workshop so that we can all communicate better with the population and all the health care beneficiaries.

Nirvana Alagić, a senior nurse at the Zenica Health Center, also found the workshop useful:

"I think that holding such workshops is very useful and desirable for educating the health care workers. The knowledge we have acquired will have a lot of effect in our future work and enable us to share what we have learned to our colleagues.”

Na pravi način prezentirati relevantne informacije o imunizaciji
UNICEF/Panjeta

Amar Obradović, a volunteer and president of the Mostar Red Cross Youth, points out that such workshops are more than necessary at this moment:

"We can transfer the acquired knowledge in our communities - in schools, the Red Cross, and other organizations, and thus raise the level of awareness regarding vaccination. "

One of the lecturers at the workshop and the head of the Epidemiology Service at the FBiH public health institute, dr. Sanjin Musa says that the experiences from the first part of the workshops are quite good, emphasizing that part of the workshop and discussion is about vaccines against COVID-19 and the experiences of health workers:

"In this period of one year, almost one million and 200 thousand doses were given, and the focus of the vaccination program against COVID-19 was on the adult population, which is quite different from the area in which we have the most experience, and that is the immunization of children. We now have a lot of general practitioners who have participated in the COVID-19 vaccination program, and we see the importance of improving immunization programs, such as the one against the flu that also targets the adult population.”

Educational workshops "Interpersonal communication and communication with the media in the promotion of vaccination against COVID-19 and regular immunization of children and youth in FBiH" were supported through the Regional project to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of children and their families in the western Balkans and Turkey which is financed through the European Union Assistance Package for the Western Balkans as a Response to COVID-19 pandemic.