Low vaccination rates continue to be a problem, especially for vulnerable and marginalised populations in the midst of weak routine vaccination services. There is need for interventions to increase uptake in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. Traditional and religious leaders are influential and are respected in their communities as opinion formers and guides in religious, social and family life. They have been used to support mass campaigns for vaccination activities and as agents of change to get communities to use health services. National immunisation programs have adopted this strategy as part of their mandate for Polio Eradication. However, most interventions are focused on the provision of information, which is useful, but fall short to really empowering communities to act.
Prof. Angela Oyo-Ita, at the University of Calabar, is leading an experimental study to asses the use of the traditional and religious leaders (TRL) as a means to engage communities in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of immunisation services in selected communities in Cross River State, Southern Nigeria. Read more about the project.