Turning to the wheels to rally communities for the COVID-19 vaccination in Khartoum
Innovating to reach everyone with the COVID-19 vaccine
Hellatkoko health facility located in Sharg-e-nile locality is one of the COVID-19 vaccination centres in Khartoum state. Inspite of it its strategic location, surrounded by busy markets, automobile repair centres, animal markets and heavily populated, the health facility continued to register low numbers of people vaccinated against coronavirus in the locality. The same was the case with other vaccination centres in Khartoum state.
Concerned about the trend, the health promotion team at Sharg-e-nile locality has introduced new strategies that will target people near vaccination centres like Hellatkoko health facility for increased vaccine uptake. Among them, is the use of mobile vans that go out daily to share information about the vaccine while urging those eligible to rush to Hellatkoko health facility to get vaccinated. This is just one of the strategies that the Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF have put in place to increase vaccine uptake around vaccination centres and it has yielded great results. According to recent Ministry of Health reports vaccine coverage for Sharg-e-nile has tremendous increased in the locality from 5.1 per cent to 47.1 per cent since the new strategies were initiated.
The mobile van at Hellatkoko health facility
Each day, the mobile van goes out to the communities at least four times. Every after each mobilization session, people are seen coming to the facility for the vaccine.
At every stop, especially locations with many people like markets, the health promoters share messages very specific to the COVID-19 vaccine, its availability, safety, efficacy, eligible persons and the vaccination centres around the locality.
When the mobile van stops, health promoters respond to questions, address rumors and misconceptions that people may have, while reminding those eligible to go to Hellatkoko health facility to get vaccinated.
“I am suffering from diabetes. Should I also take the vaccine?” the man asked. Fortunately, the health promoters are available to answer his question and encourage him to go to the facility to get vaccinated as he is among the persons being targeted. Persons above 45 years of age with illnesses are among the target population for the COVID-19 vaccine in Sudan.
According to Nadia Ahmed, the Director for Health promotion for Sharg-e-nile locality, using the mobile van has improved vaccine uptake in her locality in a very short time. Targeting people at their workplaces like markets, animal shades where they spend most their time, has greatly worked. The recent Ministry of Health reports indicate a tremendous increase in vaccine coverage for Sharg-e-nile locality from 5.1 per cent to 47.1 per cent since the strategy was initiated.
With every trip that the mobile van makes, Hellatkoko health facility registers more and more people trickling in to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
At Hellatkoko health facility, the health workers trained by the locality health promotion team with UNICEF support are available to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine provided is safe and has been kept well at the health facility’s effective and well-functioning cold chain system.
After the clients are vaccinated, they are requested to stay behind for 15 to 30 minutes for observation. As more and more people are reached with the messages, operating hours at the health facility have been adjusted to late in the evening and early in the night especially during the holy month of Ramadan to cater to the increase in demand for the vaccination services.
Through the intensified mobilization efforts to reach all the eligible persons, the elderly man, working in the nearby market heard the announcements from the mobile van and he was able to come get vaccinated.
UNICEF and partners continue to support the Government of Sudan to reach everyone with the COVID-19 by innovating new and unusual techniques. No one is safe unless all of us are safe.