November and December 2020 Insights
As 2020 comes to an end, things have not quieted down for the Boost Community, as one might expect. Instead, in November and December alone, the Boost Community hosted a total of nine live engagements covering topics such as vaccine misinformation, vaccine coverage and community activation.
of participants found Boost webinars and workshops engaging
Community engagement surfaced as a recurring theme across these webinars and workshops. Perhaps unsurprisingly, several of the examples on this subject brought forth during live sessions revolved around COVID-19. Speakers and participants alike stressed the importance of working with communities to keep immunization programs running during the pandemic and involving this key audience in the planning of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
To this last point, the Boost team together with Dalberg Design, hosted an interactive live session with Boost Community members around co-designing a strategy with community stakeholders for regional COVID-19 vaccine deployment as part of the ongoing work of the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project.
Equitable Approaches to COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery
More than 100 immunization professionals from 50 countries participated in a recent discussion aimed at gathering valuable input to inform the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project's approach to country engagement and support offerings. The dialogue revealed that immunization professionals define equity under four main pillars: approach integration; data-driven decision-making and transparency; bottom-up mobilization; and inclusive deployment. All of these key areas are supported by a robust holistic communication strategy. These pillars emerged as a response to the challenges countries are starting to face when planning and preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Moreover, community involvement was front and center in a discussion with Boost’s first podcast guest, Indah Kusumawati, Boost Community member and alumni of a recent Boost adaptive leadership training. Indah described working alongside communities in India and Africa as she shared her personal story of what motivated her to become and continue her work as an immunization professional in Boost’s new podcast series Voices of Leadership (which began as a webinar series).
“There is no success without the support of the entire team, partners and other sectors.”Indah Kusumawati, Boost Community Member
Voices of Leadership
Voices of Leadership is an ongoing podcast series brought to you by the Boost Community. In the inaugural season of this series, alumni of Boost's Adaptive Leadership courses and workshops share examples, anecdotes and approaches to tackling thorny adaptive challenges within the immunization field drawing on their learnings from these trainings.
Boost’s Community Activation Dialogues perhaps underscored the theme of community engagement most. This three-part monthly series, which concluded in December, was led by Boost partner People Power Health. Each session had a different focus, from mapping stakeholders in your community to honing your storytelling skills to reach people in a new way. More than 100 Boost members from 25 countries participated in the lively sessions, where members shared immunization challenges such as creating community ownership and active promotion of vaccination in communities.
Community Activation Dialogues
Community organizing and movement building provides a framework to work towards a shared goal and a common purpose. It gives immunization professionals a platform to establish long-term and transformative relationships with service users and other community members, with all parties committing and contributing towards achieving equitable vaccination.
The final dialogue in the series yielded much engagement and interest from members as it had to do with the softer skills of immunization: storytelling. Some of the questions that were addressed in this session include: How do we address a single story when people start to believe that is the only story that exists? How do we help them see a different story? In the context of COVID-19, shaping the narrative around safety protocols and new vaccinations is critical. To build off of this session, People Power Health and the Leading Change Network will be offering a self-paced storytelling course in January.
“The stories that others tell to themselves are the actual reality of their experience. To say that their reality is false will lead to push back. We need to build an empathetic bridge. We need to create greater understanding, especially in the context of COVID-19, that many are facing and reacting to fear and isolation. ”Pedja Stojicic, People Power Health
Finally, we cannot forget the importance of partnerships and coordination as essential ingredients to community engagement. Our final Bright Spots webinar of the year, Changing Minds to Change Numbers – It’s Not Always About Resources, touched on this subject as well as a special year-end webinar with Exemplars in global health – an initiative aimed at highlighting countries that have made extraordinary progress in important health outcomes. In the latter webinar, a speaker from one of those Exemplar nations, Nepal, indicated that clear communication and coordination is crucial for successful outcomes.
““Always try to identify: what power do we have? We have the power to make something by planning effectively on how to use our resources and foster partnerships.””Green Sadru, Immunization Technical Officer, John Snow, Inc. (JSI), Tanzania