This brief news piece from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) explores the role of community mobilisation - interpersonal communication (IPC) by women and the use of music - to encourage Chad's mothers to vaccinate their children. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) supports an outreach network consisting of community outreach volunteers, vaccinators, and supervisors. Women are venturing out to local communities to discuss the importance of vaccination, basic hygiene, and the use of bed nets to prevent malaria. One such woman whose story is recorded here, Toma Mamout, says that, during these visits, she advises mothers to bring their children to every vaccination drive and to stick to the calendar.
According to Ms. Mamout, on her rounds to the more distant villages, the semi-nomadic local communities "refused until recently to allow their children to be vaccinated, out of ignorance and fear." According to the latest social data analysis, the number of missed children and vaccine refusals for "social reasons" has recorded an increasing trend over the last few months in N'Djamena. UNICEF rates caregivers' poor awareness of vaccination campaigns as high-risk.
In an effort to create understanding and awareness among the community, which helps build demand for vaccination and can ultimately only strengthen health services, the Government, with the support of GPEI partners, carried out a communication campaign involving prominent Chadian Artists, the Scouts Movement, and the National Council of Youth during the last immunisation round. Popular Chadian musicians rallied in the fight against polio with an open air, free-admission concert to raise awareness in N'Djamena. Amongst the messages expressed by a famous Chadian singer during the campaign: "Youth, I say this: when you see the vaccinators, it is to give two drops against polio. So ask your parents to allow them to vaccinate your siblings. Parents leave behind the preconceptions. If you want your children to play as soccer players, have them vaccinated so they are not paralyzed."
Image credit: UNICEF Chad/Cao