Improving Vaccination Awareness and Coverage in Somalia (IVACS)
Andrew Seal of the Institute for Global Health and Development in the United Kingdom will test whether traditional female social groups in Somalia can adopt a participatory learning and action (PLA) approach to improve vaccine knowledge and coverage in humanitarian settings. Vaccine-preventable diseases are prevalent in Somalia; measles is the leading cause of death in children under five, yet less than 40% of children are immunized. This is due in part to lack of knowledge about the benefits of vaccination. The PLA approach is based on the idea that sustainable social change is possible if teachers and learners engage in meaningful dialogue and share ideas and experiences. Abbay-Abbay groups, common throughout Somalia, are social groups of 10-20 women, led by an elected Khalifada (lead woman). They meet regularly and have a core interest in the challenges of child rearing, with most women having direct or indirect experience with losing a child to measles. They will recruit coordinators to support Abbay-Abbay leaders, providing information and facilitating learning around vaccinations. They will evaluate their approach for improving attitudes to vaccination and reducing the incidence of measles via a randomized cluster study.