Driving around the city to improve tetanus vaccine coverage

UNICEF community mobilizers helps to sensitize the community on importance of immunization

Ansar Rasheed
Ashraf during his daily drive with his tuk-tuk using megaphones to spread essential messages
UNICEF/2020/Yemen/ Yassir Abdulbaki
25 January 2021

Yemen, Aden – 11 November 2020. The sound blasting from two speakers he installed on his tuk-tuk is taking over the whole space, disseminating messages about tetanus and the vaccine against it. Messages target mostly girls and women of birth-bearing age and pregnant women, explaining how to protect themselves and their babies during pregnancy and delivery.

Here comes Ashraf Sadik, 36, a single father of a daughter and a son. He is a trained community volunteer driving around in his tuk-tuk promoting tetanus vaccine, eagerly raising awareness on the disease to make sure that women and girls are vaccinated and protected.

“All women are my daughters and sisters. I am very committed to making sure they are protected and healthy. I came across several cases where children died during delivery because the tools that were used were contaminated. Mothers were not vaccinated, which made them subject to such a devastating end”, Ashraf says.

Ashraf is also engaging with the community in his Tawahi district of Aden, making sure girls and women are taking the 5 doses of the vaccine.

Ashraf during an interpersonal awareness-raising session; he is socially distant and uses PPE provided by UNICEF
UNICEF/2020/Yemen/ Yassir Abdulbaki
Ashraf during an interpersonal awareness-raising session; he is socially distant and uses PPE provided by UNICEF

“Ashraf considers himself as our sponsor. Knocking on our doors, reminding us of the remaining doses to take so we don’t forget. During campaigns he also drives around in his tuk-tuk encouraging all of us to take the vaccine which can save our lives. We have great respect for him as he never gives up”, Sameera, a woman from Tawhi Aden, explains.

Haj Saleh, the neighborhood imam adds: “Ashraf also engages with me as the neighborhood imam to make sure that I encourage my community through the mosque to be vaccinated. Child mortality can be caused also by tetanus and having the vaccine can protect our children too.”

“I will continue making sure that our daughters and sisters are protected. I, as a single father, have great commitment to do so and my courage comes from my own children and the respect I receive from the community. Vaccines are life, vaccines are our tool to save lives,” Ashraf added.

With support from other community mobilizers in his area, Ashraf has contributed to increasing the tetanus vaccine coverage by 20% during 2019-2020. Approximately 21,000 women and girls have received all doses of the vaccine. In Twahi district, vaccine coverage for tetanus (first and second rounds, administering all 5 doses) is at 82%.

Ashraf if a living example of the tolerance of committed people in Yemen who, despite the war and the worst humanitarian crisis in the world that Yemen is experiencing, are still committed to save lives.