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Apr 25, 2024   |   Blog Post

Creative Catalysts: Enhancing Vaccination Rates in Malawi

vaccination malawi
Actors perform in front of a crowd at Kang’oma Health Center, Malawi. Photo credit: Cosmah Chaula

By VillageReach

Originally published in the VillageReach 2023 Annual Impact Report, “Running the Race, Together.” 

In Malawi, a blend of drama and talking books (1) is driving change in vaccination rates among children. Through the Let’s Talk About Vaccines! project, a collaboration between the Malawi Ministry of Health and VillageReach, community engagement and a mix of education and entertainment are being used to tackle barriers to full immunization of children under two.

This initiative was born from community-based participatory research (2) to understand and address why some children under two are not completing their full immunization schedule in Malawi’s Lilongwe and Mzimba districts. The project has identified five principal drivers of routine vaccination drop-out:

  • Lack of caregiver knowledge
  • Fear of repercussions
  • Rumors and concerns
  • Time and financial burden of clinic visits
  • Unequal distribution of responsibility, primarily falling on mothers.

The project uses drama and talking books to address these challenges, fostering community engagement and countering vaccine hesitancy. It also advocates for improving service quality, timeliness and reliability of health care delivery. Tailored messaging, particularly addressing COVID-19 misinformation and new vaccine introduction, is also recommended.

Through collaboration with local actors, we aim for increased immunization knowledge, higher routine vaccination rates and greater family participation in vaccination. The impact is monitored through surveys and vaccination records, ensuring continuous improvement.

By harnessing the power of creativity, Let’s Talk About Vaccines! is empowering communities to embrace immunization and secure a healthier future for their children. This initiative exemplifies how drama and songs can bring public health to life.

(1) Amplio, “Amplio Talking Book Program”, https://www.amplio.org/
(2) Powelson, Jocelyn et al, “Using community-based, participatory qualitative research to identify determinants of routine vaccination drop-out for children under 2 in Lilongwe and Mzimba North Districts, Malawi”, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38307530/

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