One of the challenges in the current pandemic situation is getting people vaccinated and creating awareness around Covid appropriate behaviour. Unavailability of services, lack of awareness, anxieties, myths, wrong information…...the reasons are many for people to not come forward.
In this scenario, as a responsible civil society organization, United Way Bengaluru came forward to support the Govt. of Karnataka in its efforts to create awareness among people and urge people to follow appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus.
United Way Bengaluru’s (UWBe) Covid Campaign is particularly to benefit the people in remote areas of Karnataka where ACCESSIBILITY, AFFORDABILITY, AVAILABILITY AND AWARENESS are key challenges that come on the way towards new initiatives and progress.
United Way Bengaluru’s field team took up this challenge and reached out to remote villages, and one of them was village Bandihole in the Mandy district of Karnataka. The people of this village are below the poverty line hence meeting the basic needs of their families is a struggle. In this situation, spending on sanitation items including masks, soaps, sanitisers is nothing but a luxury for them.
Population of the village: 2707
No. of people above 45: 568
No. of people taken vaccination: 512
Main occupation of the village: Agriculture
The other problem identified by UWBe’s team during the needs assessment was the missing link between ‘Accessibility’ and ‘Awareness’. Though the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in the vicinity is equipped with vaccines, it did not have takers! The acceptance of vaccination in the village was absolutely nil. One of the volunteers from a local organisation mentioned, people did not even understand the gravity of the current crisis.
To address the issues, UWBe first worked on spreading awareness. In collaboration with a local partner organisation, Vishveshwarya Development Organization (VDO), door to door visits was made, announcements were done and leaflets were distributed in the community. As a second step, working on the acceptance of the vaccination was crucial as people were quite adamant and refused to get themselves vaccinated. Building trust and relationship with the community members were instrumental in this case as people understand the language of empathy more than effectiveness. Home visits were made and the team personally distributed hygiene and nutrition kits to break the ice. The families appreciated this gesture and opened up to discuss the pandemic and the need of the hour.
Once the community was prepared, the next steps were relatively easier. Giving due attention to the health and hygiene of frontline workers was given priority. ASHA workers, doctors and volunteers were fully equipped with N95 masks and other equipment to ensure their safety. ASHA workers confessed feeling much safer working in this village due to the safety measures and protocols followed by the Covid Vaccination team at work.
In two days, as many as 543 people which is equivalent to 96 % of the elderly population got vaccinated in the village, where people were reluctant to come forward initially.
Sometimes all it takes to handle a worse situation is not a high tech solution, but a simple strategy of building relationships.