Vaccination champion Kilifi brings local challenges to the table
The village of Msumarini in Kikambala in the South Kilifi sub-county is home to a vaccination champion in the county. Mr. Omar Bandika is one of the voices that pleaded in favor of national budgeting for immunization.
Bandika coordinates and works with other champions in seven sub-counties to ensure that calls for immunization funding are heard.
He says they are currently building a coalition to strengthen their voice on immunization financing issues.
“With all of us and even other stakeholders together, we will have an even stronger voice to ensure that countries invest heavily in immunization to ensure routine immunization and the availability of other vaccines,” he said. declared.
So far, the coalition has around 13 members, he says, including Kwetu Training Center, Angaza Youth Initiative, Kaloleni Youth Empowerment Center, Exodus CBO, DSW Kenya, Pathfinder Kilifi, Moving the Goalpost and Youth for Sustainable Development, and Moreover. “Together, we sit down and plan the push for more funding for immunization,” says Bandika.
He is concerned that immunization is the least adopted by national and county governments, which makes it look like a foreign program pushed by nongovernmental organizations and development partners.
“If you go to fetch water, you will know how to value it. The common mwananchi does not understand what it costs to get the vaccines. We need good political will on immunization. We need our politicians to bring this discussion so that we can prevent these diseases instead of waiting to cure them, ”Bandika emphasizes.
He adds that as champions of immunization, they foster dialogue at the top. “A lot of people go to facilities to get vaccinated, but they don’t know where the vaccines come from,” he says.
Champions, in collaboration with partners, conduct awareness and awareness programs to educate the community on the importance of getting vaccinated.
“We talk to the community to make them understand that vaccination or vaccination is a very profitable investment for public health. We also try to make them understand the importance of getting vaccinated, ”he says.
The team also invites policymakers to understand immunization funding gaps and why counties should prioritize vaccine budgeting ahead of the planned release of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
According to Bandika, the challenges of improving immunization vary. “There are those who come with access. At all times we see women visiting the facilities for routine vaccines, like polio, tetanus and measles, ”he says, adding that the major challenge lies in the sustainability of supply in terms of health chains. cold, so that hard-to-reach areas are covered.
The champion gives the example of his local dispensary in Msumarini, where there is a big challenge of unstable power supply.
“Some of the vaccines need to be moved from here to the Vipingo health center. Thanks to the county government and its partners, we were able to secure a back-up generator that solved the power supply problem. This is just one of many scenarios. There is a lack of facilities in some health centers, ”he says.
He notes that vaccines need to be stored at certain temperatures and that some of the available refrigerators are old and lacking in spare parts. “In times like these, we need modern cold chain equipment to ensure vaccine safety. “
However, Mr. Bandika points out that with a community that has low health literacy, understanding Covid-19 and the vaccine has been a big challenge. “There have been myths that have emerged, especially with vaccines against HPV and Covid-19. They say it is a way to regulate the fertility of African women and many have warned their daughters against jabs, ”Mr. Bandika said with concern.
As a champion, he first had to take the Covid-19 vaccine to convince the community to receive the vaccines as well.
He also observes that it is necessary for men to actively participate in the vaccination narrative to enable adoption. “We want to make sure that the discussion about immunization and immunization leaves the boards of directors at the bottom,” he stresses.