PAHO communication campaign a great success

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The first phase of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) communications campaign to address vaccine hesitancy in Eastern Caribbean countries has been a resounding success.

The campaign, which started in October 2021 and ended in June 2022, was developed to address four key challenges: low vaccination rates against COVID-19, due to misconceptions and mistrust; Infodemic prevalence (false information about COVID-19 that has been spread mainly on social media and the internet); the desire to achieve 70% COVID-19 vaccination coverage by June 2022; and the emergence of new variants of concern due to the high circulation of the COVID-19 virus.

PAHO and ITU worked on the campaign with telecom provider Trend Media/Digicel.

The campaign built on the public-private partnership model pioneered by the Joint Organization WHO-ITU Be [email protected]the Be Mobile initiative to quickly set up a convenient and accessible content distribution channel (including for people with limited Internet access).

Awareness raising and behavior change information organized by PAHO was presented in engaging multimedia formats (infographics, posters, videos, etc.) and posted online. People received SMS messages containing brief preventative health advice, as well as links to multimedia materials that they could access without any data traffic cost.

The information provided was intended to raise awareness; demystify myths; provide advice; and encourage people to get vaccinated.

Phase 1 initially ran from October 2021 to January 2022 and targeted Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Saint Lucia.

When the project was extended to June 2022, Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were included.

The PAHO ITU team considered the campaign a success based on the following research findings.

One in four people have read the 5 million forwarded messages and opened the links. Additionally, approximately 81% of mobile users receiving the messages rated the content as useful, interesting or relevant; and just over 50% of mobile users said the information they received helped them stay alert to associated risks.

Importantly, at least 5% of respondents said the communication campaign helped them decide to get vaccinated; while nearly 14% said the information helped them adjust their behavior.

Based on the results of this initiative so far, PAHO and ITU are currently in discussion on phase two of the project. The second part of the project will target countries that were not included in the first phase.

The Representative of the PAHO/WHO Office for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries (ECC), Dr. Amalia Del Riego, described the progress made to date as “very encouraging! »

Dr. Del Riego added, “The second phase of the campaign will provide PAHO and ITU with an opportunity to raise awareness and reduce vaccine hesitancy in our other countries and territories.

According to Bruno Ramos, Director of the ITU Regional Office for the Americas: “The campaign has demonstrated the feasibility of leveraging digital technology to support preventive health measures to contribute to better health and development. “

Ramos emphasized that the ITU Regional Office looks forward to collaborating with PAHO and other partners to support the integration of cost-effective digital solutions into SDG-related projects and initiatives. (RP)

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