Partnering with communities to support COVID-19 vaccine access and infection prevention
More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, over 400 million people have been infected and nearly 6 million have died. Safe, effective vaccines are becoming available for global distribution, but challenges to vaccine access and misinformation threaten progress. However, through community partnerships to distribute vaccines and dispel vaccine hesitancy, widespread COVID-19 infection prevention is possible.
World Relief is coordinating with ministries of health to make vaccines available and equipping faith leaders with accurate information to support vaccine confidence and acceptance among their congregations.
The SCOPE COVID-19 Project
The Strengthening Community Health Outcomes through Positive Engagement (SCOPE) COVID-19 Project is an ongoing USAID-funded New Partnerships Initiative (NPI) project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, and Rwanda implemented in partnership with local ministries of health. SCOPE COVID-19 is accelerating widespread and equitable access to and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as risk communication and community engagement around COVID-19 infection prevention and control.
SCOPE COVID-19 focuses on three key areas that can improve chances of COVID-19 prevention:
Vaccination Readiness, Demand Generation and Administration
SCOPE COVID-19 applies several strategies to increase access to and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. In partnership with Ministry of Health vaccination teams, the project assists mobile vaccination outreaches in community spaces (markets, churches, mosques, trading centers, and schools) and conducts door-to-door vaccination administration in hard-to-reach areas. In addition to administering the vaccine, SCOPE health workers are trained to facilitate risk communication and community engagement around COVID-19 vaccines. Generating vaccine demand and dispelling misinformation are central to mitigating vaccine hesitancy and increasing uptake. SCOPE COVID-19 works through mass media efforts (including radio, television, text and printouts) leveraging key influencers to advocate for COVID-19 vaccines within their communities.
Faith Community Engagement
SCOPE COVID-19 mobilizes and empowers faith leaders to be at the forefront of COVID-19 responses in their communities. Religious factors are the third most frequently cited reason for vaccine hesitancy globally and, as a result, are universally recognized as influential for vaccine uptake and coverage. The project empowers faith leaders to be instrumental in sharing messages with their communities, acting as community role models in vaccine uptake and reinforcing community-level action around COVID-19 prevention and vaccine awareness. Faith leaders are trained with knowledge and tools for COVID-19 prevention information and are equipped to combat vaccine myths and rumors among their congregations. SCOPE COVID-19 tools utilize story-based lessons for Christian, Muslim, Hindu and neutral faith contexts in the forms of sermon guides and community group lessons. These resources have been translated, contextualized and validated by the countries’ health ministries. Additionally, the health ministries in Kenya and Rwanda (Christian and Muslim) are promoting SCOPE COVID-19 resources for nationwide use.
Community Health Worker Capacity Building and Supplies Provision
SCOPE COVID-19 builds the capacity of community health workers and volunteers in COVID-19 infection prevention, testing, contact tracing, and home-based care support. The project also provides personal protective equipment and other supplies (cloth face masks, quick read thermometers, and sanitation and hygiene items) to frontline workers and community spaces (health centers, early childhood centers, churches, mosques, markets, schools, and prisons).
The SCOPE COVID-19 project facilitates and supports national and local level planning and coordination mechanisms for COVID-19. The project also facilitates national and local level dialogues on COVID-19 issues among leaders across different sectors (health, religion, traditional authorities, transport, education, and local government). SCOPE COVID-19 also provides capacity building to local administrators around COVID-19 messaging, data collection, and reporting.
With the engagement of faith communities, community health workers and country coordination mechanisms:
500,000 vaccine doses will be administered in collaboration with local Ministries of Health
10,000,000 people will be reached with COVID-19 vaccination and infection prevention and control messages
10,000 faith leaders will be trained and engaged in mobilizing congregations and communities around COVID-19 vaccine promotion and prevention measures
10,000 community health workers and volunteers will be trained on COVID-19 modules
50,000 WASH and infection prevention control consumable supplies (facemasks, hand sanitizers, and thermometers) will be distributed
1,000 handwashing stations will be installed