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Monthly Roundup: Celebrating Health Workers and Spotlighting Global Immunization Efforts

This month, global health leaders are pausing to recognize those at the forefront of delivering vaccines and other essential health services around the world during  World Health Worker Week, World Health Day and World Immunization Week

Immunization Advocates  works with these professionals year-round, and we look forward to this month to spotlight their efforts. Read more about how Sabin is highlighting the work of health workers working diligently for equitable immunization across the world.

Community Conversations on Vaccines podcast features Sudanese nurse, journalism trainer, working in situations of conflict and civil unrest

Season 3, episode 1 of our podcast, Community Conversations on Vaccines is available now wherever you find your podcasts.

Amid war and humanitarian crises across South and Southeast Asia and a recent military coup in Sudan, Dr. Jaya Shreedhar, a health journalist and media trainer from India, and Mohamed Modber, a nurse and advocate in Sudan, join Sabin’s Vince Blaser and Francesca Montalto in the kick-off of the podcast’s newest season. Together they discuss vaccine equity and acceptance challenges in social and politically-complex settings. The conversation also explores the need health workers and journalists share for security, safety and tools to address vaccine acceptance and demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

#ImmunisationAdvocacyChampions share how we can build the workforce back better

Our program continues to partner with the Nursing Now Challenge to support the Immunisation Advocacy Champions – early career nurses and midwives who are advocating for vaccine equity and acceptance. During World Health Worker Week, the champions shared their thoughts on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health workforce and how we can build back better.

Ugandan nurse and REMI East Africa head Rose Mary Nakame emphasized the importance of listening to and investing in health workers to create systemic change and support the health workforce, especially those working with rural, hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations. New York City nurse Amy Staley stressed the needs of the health workforce and the role of vaccine equity and acceptance at all levels – watch Amy’s address at the 2021 ICN Congress here. Finally, Malawian nurse Rashid Mang’anda, who has recently been working with colleagues to address vaccination challenges amid floods in southern Malawi, reflected upon  the importance of supporting health workers through advocacy – read more about his experience with Nursing Now Challenge here.

Additionally, Rose and Lesothan nurse-midwife Mpho Shelile, Vince Blaser and colleagues with the International Pediatric Association, who Immunization Advocates partnered with on the Vaccine Trust Project, delivered video messages as part of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition (FHWC) video campaign. An action message by Sabin’s Vince Blaser underpins: “Building back better has to start by all of us demanding our policymakers put money behind what health workers tell us they need to deliver.”

Frontline health workers go a long way vaccinating people along the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border: A journalist reports

Photo/Video by Jhon Durán

Costa Rica-based science and health journalist Irene Rodríguez Salas, shared her impressions about a recent reporting trip to remote areas in the Costa Rican border with Nicaragua and the outstanding efforts of frontline health workers to immunize people there and assist them with health services. Nadia Peimbert-Rapport, senior manager of stakeholder partnerships on Sabin’s VAD team, captures Irene’s experiences in a blog. 

Irene is a fellow of the Global Health Reporting Initiative: Vaccines and Immunization, led by International Women’s Media Foundation, with support by Immunization Advocates. Read more about Irene’s experiences here.

Immunization Advocates connect with Internews to support Francophone journalists

Through the program’s partnership with Internews, Parlons de Vaccins was launched this month as a new resource to support Francophone journalists who want to report more accurately on immunization and tackle vaccine misinformation.

This self-paced online course is the French version of Let’s Talk Vaccines, previously created by Internews and launched in May 2021. The original course was translated and updated to adapt to the needs of reporters in French-speaking countries. A group of 60 journalists from Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC and Mali participated in a training course that was paired with the French Let’s Talk Vaccines platform, where they were able to connect with experts. At least 25 of them graduated and will receive an accompanying mentorship to support them in producing feature stories on immunization-related themes.

Read more from the Internews Global Health Network.

Sabin partner, Agência Bori, commended by WHO

Agência Bori was selected by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Case Study for Innovative Concepts to Communicate Science During COVID-19. The program “brings science closer to the public by facilitating the translation of research into journalistic content for a wider audience,” according to WHO.

Immunization Advocates supports InfoVacina, a training and mentorship program led by Agência Bori to support journalists who want to report more accurately on COVID-19 vaccines and related immunization topics. The journalists participating in the 2021-2022 cohort have been able to connect with local and global experts, and their stories influenced local audiences by debunking misinformation and building trust for vaccine acceptance. 

Read more from WHO and access the full case study.

Immunization advocates in the media

Stories continue to be published by journalists participating in the training program led by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), with support from Immunization Advocates, in African and Latin American media outlets. Highlights include media outlets like Projecto Colabora in Brazil, Diario de Hoy in El Salvador, Peru’s Pagina Siete, Uganda CBS Radio and Efecto Cocuyo in Venezuela.

A story published by IWMF fellow Ojoma Akor in Nigeria’s Daily Trust mentions Nursing Now Challenge Immunisation Advocacy Champion Rafiat Akinokun’s experiences tackling misinformation to help youth get vaccinated against COVID-19 in her community.

A feature investigative report by IWMF fellow Megan Janetsky, published in USA Today, highlights  COVID-19 immunization challenges Indigenous Peoples face in the Amazon Region.

Sabin has endorsed the Pandemic Action Network’s (PAN) Call to Action

This statement calls on G20 leaders to:

  • Accelerate equitable access to and acceptance of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Provide new, diversified funding to fill country-identified gaps in response and preparedness
  • Build now to pandemic proof the future 

World leaders must continue to take action and address a still-present COVID-19 emergency in a coordinated manner.