Adequate immunisation coverage in rural communities remains a great challenge. Traditional birth attendants (TBAs) form an integral part of the social, cultural and religious fabric in most rural communities in Nigeria. Despite their limitations in handling the complications of childbirth, TBAs are widely accepted and patronised, especially in rural areas. The objective of the public engagement project „Empowering traditional birth attendants to increase utilisation of maternal and neonatal immunisation uptake in Imo State, Nigeria” conducted by Chinedu Iwu from the Imo State University Teaching Hospital in Orlu, Nigeria, was to empower TBAs through a workshop intervention to increase the TBA's knowledge and willingness to promote immunisation uptake.
90 TBAs from the three geopolitical zones of Imo State in Nigeria were selected and engaged through a culturally adapted audio-visual workshop. More than half of the TBAs had an education of up to secondary level. The average length of time they practiced as TBAs was 16 years, with an average of ten birth deliveries per month. Knowledge of and attitudes towards maternal and neonatal imunisation was assessed with questionnaires before and after the workshop. After the intervention, all respondents reported a willingness to promote immunisation uptake and there was also a statistically significant increase in the knowledge of maternal and neonatal immunisation.
The workshop intervention empowered the TBAs by successfully improving their knowledge and their willingness to incorporate the promotion of immunisation uptake in their work. The project has shown that the training of TBAs on immunisation has the potential of improving vaccination coverage especially in the rural areas where TBAs are significantly patronised.
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