Lusaka’s Leap: Empowering COVID-19 Vaccination Uptake

In the bustling 21 community health centers under the Circle of Hope health facility, deep in the Lusaka District of Zambia, a transformative initiative unfolded. In collaboration with the Circle of Hope team, The Task Force for Global Health’s (TFGH) CoVIP team spearheaded a comprehensive campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccination uptake between November 2021 and September 2022.

Stacy Mumba, the Surveillance and Immunization/Monitoring and Evaluation (SI/M&E) Lead at Circle of Hope headquarters, along with Francis Banda, the M&E officer for COVID-19 at Circle of Hope HQ, were instrumental in orchestrating this initiative. Evangelist Boniface Mumba from Believers Christian Church, Chawama, in Lusaka, lent his voice and influence, alongside community health worker Mr. Simbuwa Mutanuka, a pillar in Lusaka’s community health landscape. Additionally, Bishop Sakala of BIGOCA Church Lusaka played a crucial role in mobilizing the faith community.

Circle of Hope embarked on a multifaceted strategy to boost vaccine uptake, leveraging substantial support from The Task Force for Global Health and CoVIP. Activities included the dissemination of vaccine messages, facilitating access to vaccination centers, staff training, and capacity building, as well as community engagement and raising awareness efforts. They set up vaccination points in community posts, conducted mobile vaccination outreach activities, distributed informational materials, and collaborated with faith leaders for widespread community outreach.

The initiative yielded remarkable outcomes, including heightened community awareness and knowledge about COVID-19 vaccines, improved access to vaccination centers, increased referrals, and higher vaccine uptake rates. These efforts contributed significantly to reducing COVID-19 cases and related fatalities in the region.

During the initiative, CoVIP provided comprehensive training to 280 staff members, 80 vaccinators, 50 faith and community leaders, and 40 M&E staff. As well as reached out to approximately 800,212 community members to raise awareness. As a result, 52,178 individuals received direct vaccinations at community posts.

Key community leaders shared poignant insights into their involvement. Evangelist Mumba emphasized the critical role of community engagement and faith-based outreach in disseminating vaccine information effectively. Bishop Sakala highlighted the importance of faith leaders in setting an example and dispelling vaccine myths. Meanwhile, Mr. Mutanuka shared his journey toward vaccination, urging others to follow suit for the collective well-being of the community.

Circle of Hope’s initiative exemplifies the transformative power of community-driven approaches in combating COVID-19. Through collaborative efforts, education, and proactive outreach, they have achieved significant strides in promoting vaccine uptake and safeguarding public health. 

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