#COVIDNamVacc awareness campaign off to a good start

The University of Namibia, through its UNAM Cares Project, has combined efforts with the Cardiff University Phoenix Project in a Covid-19 vaccination awareness campaign in Namibia, code-named #COVIDNamVacc Project.

The multi-million dollar vaccination awareness project comes at the right time as it is set to impact positively in the fight against the pandemic in Namibia. The #COVIDNamVacc Project is a Welsh government-funded development, working in close strategic and operational support of the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Namibian Correctional Services.

Dr Rachel Freeman, the Lead of UNAM Cares Project, said: “The campaign targets to reach out to 8 regions in Namibia, over a period of 5 months.

“This involves getting closer to communities through clinic visitation, engaging regional and constituency leadership, in an effort to help citizens from all over Namibia to better understand the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination and thus, getting vaccinated to reach herd immunity.”

To achieve its objectives, during the campaign’s preparatory stages, members of the vaccination awareness project considered pertinent questions.

Explaining some of the questions they considered, Professor Judith Hall, Leader of Cardiff University Phoenix Project, had this to say: “Some of these questions include: How do you get effective health messages out to people living in a very rural country with low population density? How do you get understandable messages out when languages are many, languages may not be written, and the cultural nuances of words and phrases can easily be ‘lost in translation?’ How do you engage with their leadership to enlist support for a new vaccination drive for a novel disease? How do you communicate a new type of viral respiratory disease?”

“Moreover, Covid-19 is very complex scientifically, especially to those who have not had the advantage of, perhaps, even basic science education. How do you communicate things like particle size, variants, anosmia, reproduction numbers and exponentials?

“These are complicated things even to fully-fledged Viral Scientists and Public Health Doctors at the very best institutions. These concepts are difficult. We’ve all have to try and learn about them.”

#COVIDNamVacc Project after a session at the Namibian Correctional Service in Swakopmund.

But in the face of these communication challenges, communication must still happen. As a result, the Ministry of Health and Social Services in Namibia, working with the University of Namibia and Cardiff University has developed a fully-fledged communication strategy based on local knowledge and languages, local leadership and people of influence, based on illustrations and graphic messaging.

The next outreach is planned to go to the Hardap and //Karas regions during the second week of June.

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