Step 1: Identify key stakeholders in the PHC area/community and also ways to engage with them
A Stakeholder could be:
- governmental departments and staff (Health, ICDS, Education, District/Block Administration, PRI);
- NGOs, local organizations and youth bodies such as Nehru Yuva Kendra, National Social Service (NSS), National Cadet Corps (NCC);
- professional associations (Indian Medical Association, Indian Association of Paediatrics);
- community (parents, village health and sanitation committee(VHSC), faith-based organizations, SHGs);
- private and traditional health practitioners.
Meet the key stakeholders on a regular basis, establish a rapport with them and seek their support for our health programme.
Encourage them to talk to parents/caregivers about the benefits of the Programme; give them some IEC material such as posters and handouts with messages on immunization, ect., which can be displayed at their offices/premises or during their meetings and also be disseminated in the community. Motivate religious leaders, particularly the ones favourable to immunization, to endorse and encourage their fellow members to have their children immunized; get temple/mosque/religious places announcements made giving out details about the next immunization session and calling on parents to get their children vaccinated.
To develop a plan for communication, you need to consider some basic questions:
- Why do you want to communicate with the community? (What is your purpose?)
- Who do you want to communicate it to? (Who is your target audience?)
- What do you want to communicate? (What is your message?)
- How do you want to communicate it? (What communication channels will you use?)
- Whom should you contact and what should you do in order to use these channels? (How are you going to disseminate your message?)
Step 2: Conduct a situation analysis
- Hold community meetings, small group discussions or discussions with opinion leaders to assess the current extent of the community’s involvement with immunization services, by finding out:
- what the community already knows about VPDs and immunization;
- community awareness and perceptions about immunization services;
- perceived barriers to immunization (related to quality of immunization services and the community’s knowledge, attitudes and practices);
- issues affecting physical access to services (location, frequency, schedule);
- issues on access to services by special groups (minorities, migrants etc.);
- Identify problems and reasons for left-outs and dropouts. Jointly seek possible solutions;
- Provide information, using basic language and non-scientific terminology, on the importance of immunization, and where and when services are available. Dispel misinformation and doubts that sometimes surround immunization;
- Encourage questions so that everyone can be better informed;
- Use stories, short plays, songs and visual aids to hold the group’s attention and make meetings interesting;
- Discuss possible community support.
Step 3: Establish mechanisms for coordination
Establish a consultative mechanism at the block/PHC level, or use existing forums such as the Rogi Kalyan Samitis to ensure regular coordination between departments and to enlist community support for immunization services.
- Establish alliances with programmes such as ICDS and organizations such as NGOs with community reach;
- Involve representatives of the key stakeholder groups listed in Step 1; If required, re-align Health and ICDS sector boundaries for joint planning, implementation and monitoring of immunization activities.
- Inform the members well in advance and prepare a clear agenda for the meeting including:
- state and district immunization goals
- current status of immunization in the district and block
- key challenges and areas requiring support, with suggestions on possible interventions
- possible roles of stakeholders
- preparing and implementing a communication plan.
Step 4: Develop a comprehensive communication plan for community mobilization
A communication plan helps to organize actions to target our communication accurately, leading to the fulfilment of a goal. It gives a structure to determine whom we need to reach, and how. It can be longterm as well as short term, making our communication efforts more efficient, effective and lasting. This saves a great deal of time, as we know exactly what we should be doing at any point in the process.
MBBS, PGDPH, Final year MD