Why is communication crucial for an effective immunization programme?
Advocacy and communication form one of the five key EPI operations. Advocacy refers to ways of delivering an argument effectively, so that you gain the support and commitment of policy-makers, community members and other stakeholders, and are able to ‘put the case’ successfully for increasing immunization coverage. Communication is the transmission of information from one person to another, or from a source to a destination.
Immunization programmes may be unsuccessful if incorrect or inadequate information is transmitted to the community. Sometimes, even though correct information may be communicated, it may be ineffective in achieving the desired outcome. It is important that you, as a health professional, use terms that are readily understood when you talk to members of the community, ensuring that you appreciate local problems and show respect for local customs and culture. One way to improve communication with members of your community would be to organise a committee to look into reasons why people do not come to be vaccinated, or do not complete their vaccinations. This would help you to:
- improve relations between you as a health professional and the community
- promote participatory decision-making to improve community involvement in the EPI
- support the community to develop strategies for identifying and tracing immunization defaulters
- improve the quality of the immunization service
- encourage the community to identify and report outbreaks of communicable diseases.
What do you hope this would achieve in the long term?