Enhancing the local capacity to communicate on immunization

Enhancing the local capacity to communicate on immunization

Vanly Lorkuangming
13 January 2021
A two-day training was conducted by the National Immunization Program and the Center of Communication and Education for Health (CCEH), with support from UNICEF, to equip village health volunteers with the skills needed to communicate the importance of immunization among local communities.
UNICEF Laos/2020
A two-day training was conducted by the National Immunization Program and the Center of Communication and Education for Health (CCEH), with support from UNICEF, to equip village health volunteers with the skills needed to communicate the importance of immunization among local communities.

Ms. Amya is a village health volunteer (VHV) who has been working in Nonenongwa village of Laman District, Sekong province, for over two years. As part of her work, she regularly talks to people in her village about immunization. Working alongside health workers, she goes door-to-door to inform and remind parents whose children have not yet completed the recommended vaccination schedule about the importance of immunization.

VHVs like Ms. Amya play a vital role as the primary contact for health-related issues in communities. They help connect health workers to people and vice versa. For instance, they motivate community members to use health services, report back to the health center staff about the situation and collect primary data essential for planning.

Therefore, VHVs must be equipped with strong communication skills. To help respond to this need, the National Immunization Program (NIP) and the Center of Communication and Education for Health (CCEH), with support from UNICEF, organized a two-day interpersonal communication skills training from 7 – 18 December 2020 in seven high-risk provinces where immunization coverage remains low.

“By participating in this training, I have gained essential knowledge about immunization and techniques on how to motivate parents to get their children vaccinated,” shared Ms. Amya, who was one of the training participants. The training was attended by VHVs, health workers, village chiefs, village Lao Women Union, village Lao Youth Union, and village mobilizers, who all came together to exchange their experiences and lessons. “VHVs alone cannot mobilize the community so I am happy that everyone understands that we need to help each other,” Ms. Amya added.

Participants of the training engaging in a role-playing activity to practice their communication skills
UNICEF Laos/2020
Participants of the training engaging in a role-playing activity to practice their communication skills

“Immunization save lives. However, many parents still lack the understanding and awareness about immunization, including when and where to receive services,” stated Dr. Chanthavong Sawatchirang, Deputy Director of NIP. “This is because of insufficient and inconsistent communication that often prevent parents from bringing their children to receive life-saving vaccines, among other factors,” he explained.

Further reinforcing the importance of communication on immunization, Mr. Visith Khamlusa, the Director of CCEH, pointed out that “communication is the key to raising awareness and generating demand for immunization services.” “To communicate effectively, health workers and VHVs need to plan well and work collaboratively with other community influencers,” he noted.

After completing the training, Ms. Amya said she is now ready to get to work applying the communication skills that she learned during the training. “I feel that I am confident and prepared,” she said with a gentle smile.