Ever since mid-2017, all the villages in the Kalambayi health district in the Lomami province have Community animation cells (CACs) each of which is made up of a village chief and community members. These groups are in charge of coordinating vaccination campaign community initiatives.
The success of the CACs is due to the fact that the vaccination campaigns are run by people who know the area well and are highly motivated to work for their community. “We’ve seen an improvement in turn-outs.The abstention rate for parents and children during mass campaigns is always lower. But when families hear the awareness raising messages coming from members of the CACs, there is a better turn-out, as the communities trust them more”, stated Paulin Kabamba, community activist in the Kalambayi health district.
CAC members receive communication training from UNICEF on how to spread the message about the importance of vaccination, as well as how to administer it. This way, they can eventually administer the vaccination themselves without needing outside help. “With this approach, vaccinators are recruited from CAC members. Before a campaign begins, they are tasked with identifying the areas in their villages in order to obtain real figures to better assess the needs to ensure good vaccination coverage”, emphasized Dr. Claude Ntambua, head of medicine in the Kalambayi health district.
Because of their contributions, the CACs helped to stamp out the measles epidemic in 6 to 10 health areas of the Kalambayi health district in 2018. Strengthened with this success, the CACs became involved with different mass vaccination campaigns for children. In September 2018, more than 45,000 children received the polio vaccination, while only 40,000 had been targeted.
Translated from French by Marguerite McMillan
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