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Immunisation Sunday: Sensitizing Religious Leaders in Kajiado County, Kenya

posted Jan 22, 2018, 1:38 AM by GAVI CSO   [ updated Feb 14, 2018, 7:00 AM ]

Dates of activity

1-4 June 2017

Location of activity

Kajiado North Sub-County in Kajiado County, Kenya

CSO platform

Health NGOs Network (HENNET) Kenya

Key partners in activity

Kajiado County Ministry of Health; Action Now Kenya; Restoration of Life Centre; Local Administration; Karen Hospital

People reached

Five community health volunteers conducted door to door mobilization, reaching 299 children

Funding

Gavi CSO Constituency Platforms Project

Contribution to Global Vaccine Action Plan

Strategic Objective 2: Successfully change immunization-seeking behaviors in the communities where you work, convincing people to get vaccinated and demand vaccination services

Contribution to Gavi Strategy 2016—2020

Goal 2:  Increase effectiveness and efficiency of immunisation delivery as an integrated part of strengthened health systems

 

Part C: Strengthen engagement of civil society, private sector and other partners in immunisation


The Health NGOs Network (HENNET) of Kenya, with Gavi support, conducted Immunisation Sunday on 4 June, 2017, in Kajiado County, Kenya, to increase the knowledge and acceptance of immunisation among religious leaders and community gatekeepers. The aim of the sensitisation meetings was to encourage religious leaders to use their platforms of influence to accelerate routine immunisation in the communities they serve. The name "Immunisation Sunday" came about following the enthusiastic response of a religious leader who immediately organised an "immunisation day" after meeting with HENNET members. 

Immunisation Sunday was conducted with the support of the Ministry of Health Kajiado County. In preparation, five community health volunteers conducted community outreach activities to sensitize the population to the upcoming activity. The turnout was good and nearby communities embraced Immunisation Sunday, bringing their children for the occasion. Despite the fact that this was being done in a Christian church, a Muslim Imam from a local mosque also attended and spoke to the Christian congregants on the importance of immunisation and why all religious leaders should embrace vaccination services. He reminded the congregation that “prevention is better than cure.” Religious leaders shared messages on the importance of routine immunisation and the need for community ownership of child health. The unity shown between different religious groups during the activity drove home the message on the importance of immunisation. The service was followed by a health session near the church, which resulted in 299 children under age five being vaccinated, receiving de-worming treatment and having access to other curative treatments.  

Immunisation Sunday brought together a number of stakeholders from different local health departments, resulting in an integrated approach to service delivery that included HENNET support.  In addition, the close relationship with religious leaders and community gate keepers in Kajiado County has made it easier for HENNET to work within the local communities and to understand the dynamics that often derail health-seeking behaviors.

Immunization Sunday demonstrated that the involvement of grassroots stakeholders and the influence of local leaders can accelerate community ownership of child health services. It also showed that health facility hours may not be convenient for all, and that using other institutions as service points can help to improve  access to, and demand for, routine immunization services. 

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