In Shynianga region, Tanzania, the vaccination campaign is thriving. In just a few months, from February to April, in Shynianga DC the vaccination coverage has gone from 4% to 45% for a total of 72.702 people vaccinated against Covid-19, in a target population of 305.522. A big success if we consider that, in according to the OMS data, the country average stands at 10,9% of the population with one dose and just 6,6% with two doses.
An ambulance, a small cooler and a big register. Three Community Health workers have been all over the district, bringing the vaccine ‘’from door to door’’, winning the initial hesitation to receive the vaccine. Under a tree, near some huge rocks or in a tiny health place with red bricks and corrugated iron doors, sitting in plastic chairs or small benches. The portable cooler that contains the vaccines placed on the ground, the big register on the knees to write down who receive the first or the second dose. Calm and patient, all the people wait for their turn sitting on the mats, while the children stare at something that this time isn’t about them.
«Going from village to village, talking to people, explaining them the importance of vaccination to get everyone vaccinated. This is our main commitment – explains Edith Kwezi, or as all they call her, Mama Kwezi, who coordinates the vaccination campaign for CUAMM–. Hard times continued, as in the Manyada village: after raising awareness about the importance of vaccination, the village headman only wanted to receive a single-dose and we just had Johnson & Johnson, so he and many others refused to receive it. Another difficult time took place when the transport equipment wasn’t available to reach many elderly people in an isolated village». And she continues: «In the past months there were also moments that gave us a big satisfaction, once we were in a very remote area, the Itwangi zone, and we vaccinated 13 elders. Their reaction was an extraordinary happiness, they thanked a lot CUAMM and the government for having reached them, so close to their home and they asked to carry on this strategy until all the elders will receive the vaccine».
The results are now visible: after the training of the local activists and the Community Health Workers, after meeting a lot of partners and involving more than 400 people between village headmen and religious leaders, traditional guides and opinion leaders, after increasing community outreach activities and strengthening teamwork at all levels and encouraging vaccination teams through radio spots.
«It’s necessary to carry on this work: now people start to understand that Covid-19 can be very dangerous, but they don’t know yet how to evaluate the effectiveness and value of the vaccine– continues Edith -. Many of them are still doubtful, so the awareness campaign has to proceed. Teamwork and everyone’s commitment can make the difference. The most beautiful day? When a Community Health Worker, in Nsalala, brought us in eight families, house by house. She explained in her native language “Sukuma” the importance of the vaccine and all the people we met have been vaccinated, no one refused».