Brenda Okech from the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe completed her public engagement project "Promoting awareness on maternal and neonatal vaccines in fishing communities of Lake Victoria in Uganda." The project consisted of a baseline study to assess existing knowledge on maternal vaccines and a subsequent information campaign built on the study results in the targeted fishing communities (FC) and was facilitated by the UVRI-IAVI HIV Vaccine Program.
The study aimed to determine the level of knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding maternal vaccination and consecutively raise awareness on the topic. In addition, Village Health Teams (VHTs) and students were trained in assessing the vaccination status for maternal and childhood vaccines in the FCs.
Community entry meetings were conducted with 318 participants and 26 community leaders of the Kasenyi landing site to introduce the project to the communities. Targeted community meetings were conducted on Koome Island with 107 participants. During the study, both quantitative and qualitative approaches were applied by using questionnaires and in-depth interviews. The study participants were health workers, VHTs, students and women with children below five years. A total of 425 individuals were interviewed (317 female, 108 male). While the community members had heard about immunisation in general, the majority was not aware of the different immunisable diseases (only 29.9 % knew about BCG, 9.4 % about hepatitis B, 1.6 % about pneumonia, 1.2 % about influenza, and 35.1 % about tetanus). 85.4 % of the participants knew about polio and 74.4 % measles. Only 28.6 % had heard that women are vaccinated against tetanus, 22 % against HPV and 28 % did not know the types of vaccines given to women.
For raising awareness of maternal immunisation in the communities, banners with pictorial information and leaflets in local languages were distributed with the support of 50 VHTs, who also answered questions that emerged in the communities. In addition, two schools were provided with skits to educate community members and 40 students were engaged in sensitising community members on immunisation, together with two drama groups. Furthermore, audiomessages were produced in Luganda and English and were broadcasted through local radio stations for a sustained sensitisation of the local population on maternal immunisation.
Pictures of activities
Dr Chris Gale from Imperial College London provided new insights about the impact of COVID-19 on the health of neonates in a webinar organised by IMPRINT.