Dancing, football and theatre – vaccination awareness in Malawi
Creative solutions to encourage more people to get vaccinated: mobile teams are raising awareness of protective measures and vaccination against COVID-19.
Millions of people around the globe have been vaccinated against COVID-19. In the global North, vaccination campaigns have already reached the majority of the population. In contrast, African countries have long been struggling to secure enough vaccines. In Malawi, vaccination campaigns are only just getting under way. By the end of August, the country had administered more than 900,000 vaccine doses, and around 3.7 per cent of the population have now had their first jab. Information gaps and preconceptions around vaccination can create scepticism and uncertainty. To ensure that the population has access to sound information on how to protect and vaccinate themselves against COVID-19, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has expanded its ongoing activities in Malawi’s health sector and is running a COVID-19 awareness campaign.
For example, in ten largely rural districts, a minibus has been visiting schools and popular village meeting places since July 2021. Volunteers distribute masks, provide information using infographics, and put on a COVID-19 quiz. If that is not enough to motivate the audience, they can also take part in a goal scoring contest with the slogan ‘Kick Corona out of Malawi!’. So far, the campaign has provided more than 65,000 people with information about protection against COVID-19 and the vaccination opportunities available.
Using theatre to debunk vaccination myths
This is one of several new measures in Malawi that GIZ is implementing on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The German Federal Government has provided additional funding for vaccination awareness campaigns from its emergency COVID-19 assistance package.
In a further twelve districts, an educational theatre campaign is touring with local drama groups. Entertaining, informative plays and traditional dances raise awareness among the audience about COVID-19 protection measures and vaccination opportunities. GIZ programme manager Petra Wagner was at the performances: ‘It’s all very interactive – audience members can ask questions and are involved in the show.’ Before they perform, the theatre group discusses any reservations the local people may have and incorporates their questions into the performance.
Awareness of COVID-19 is being raised on social media, too. Experts are also providing information about preventive measures and vaccinations in roundtable discussions on the radio and television. Artists from Malawi and Germany have produced a song to boost awareness. A video clip will be broadcast on national channels from mid-September. Media campaigns are set to reach between 10 and 12 million people. ‘In Malawi, we are on the right path to overcoming any preconceptions about vaccinations and encouraging more people to get the jab,’ says Wagner.