By Agatha Mali, Communications officer, Zambia
World Vision Zambia and Save the Children have joined forces to launch a new Pfizer International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) collaboration project, which will be implemented in five districts in Southern Province as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads throughout the nation.
The project's objective is to increase COVID -19 vaccination coverage and vaccine acceptance in World Vision Zambia's operational districts of Kalomo, Namwala, Pemba, Monze, and Sinazongwe and also Save the Children's areas of programming in Mongu and Kaoma.
Speaking on behalf of the Southern Provincial Health Director for the southern province, Field Epidemiologist Francis Hadunka said the low uptake of the vaccines has led to over 10,000 drugs due to expire within June 2022.
“The recent COVID-19 Campaign saw a rise in the number of people getting the vaccine but we still need to do as we are currently only at 40% as a province,” he said. “Most of the communities are still hesitant in taking the vaccine due to various myths that exist in the communities.”
Mr. Hadunka emphasized the need for continued information, education, and communication to break the myths and misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine in communities.
“We have a lot of myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines in our communities. To eliminate these beliefs, we need adequate health education by talking to people and helping them understand the importance of getting the vaccine if we are to reach the 70% mark for COVID-19 vaccinations,” he said.
The Provincial Health Director said over 450,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the province out of 1.4 million eligible for vaccination and that 800,000 still remain to be vaccinated to reach the 70% headcount.
Meanwhile, World Vision Zambia Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition (RMNCAH-N) Technical Programme Manager, Malelo Ilukena said the project will run for 12 months with an aim to sensitize communities on the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our target is to reach 600,000 people with COVID-19 and vaccine messages. The goal of this project is to spread messages and increase the uptake of vaccines in communities,” she said.
Ms. Ilukena urged other stakeholders such as traditional, and church leaders, civil societies, and other Non-governmental organizations to come on board to integrate and take services closer to people.