GaneshAID is committed to support countries accelerating Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. Community systems strengthening is increasingly recognized in international commitments and normative guidelines. However, in many African countries, interventions to strengthen community systems remain insufficiently acknowledged, prioritized, or integrated in national plans and budgets (for either specific diseases or health as a whole).
With Governments and development partners, GaneshAID designs new and optimized approaches with people and communities placed at the center of health services. We intensify engagement of all national stakeholders to initiate and or scale up innovations to address CHS and response bottleneck.
Considering community engagement and empowerment as a core area of interventions, we provide technical support to involve people and communities in the design, planning and delivery of health and immunization services by:
- enabling them to make choices about care and treatment options or to participate in strategic decision-making on the utilization of health resources;
- ensuring people and communities can take control of their own health.
Our interventions for community engagement are co-led by communities and ministries of Health, in the framework of integrated and people-centered health and immunization services. We foster the intervention management and delivery of health services such that people receive a continuum of health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, disease-management, health care services within the health system, and according to their needs throughout the life course.
Community Engagement approaches in GaneshAID’s projects
Community Engagement covers a wide range of activities which requires the involvement of relevant stakeholders including government practitioners in some cases. At GaneshAID, we target community engagement through different approaches:
- Health education and promotion: to ensure that the community gain proper knowledge and skills for behavior change and to empower them to have high autonomy for future decision-making on their health.
- Social mobilization: to engage the participation of relevant stakeholders to achieve a common goal of improving community’s health. Depending on the project, we established an advisory or consultation group to gather different stakeholders who have influences on community’s health, taking the community’s engagement as the center.
- Risk, crisis and outbreak communication: to inform the community about the risks, crisis and outbreak facing them. More importantly, we empower them to deal with health problems with the highest confidence and autonomy. Training, communication products, and technological products are developed to motivate the health service providers as companions to build trust on health services within community. “Do-no-harm” principles and participator manner is the basis of GaneshAID’s project when equipping community with sufficient preparedness and response to face with health problems in health emergencies.
“People-centred and community-led approaches are championed widely – resulting in increased trust and social cohesion, and ultimately a reduction in the negative impacts of COVID-19“UNICEF, 2021
Community Engagement Support at GaneshAID focuses on:
(1) informing vulnerable communities,
(2) consulting them on how health and immunization services could best serve their needs,
(3) involving more communities on health problems, collaborating to build partnership, and empowering them to lead the way. Finally, communities are engaged in deciding for their own health, and they are empowered to co-lead a strong partnership with frontline health workers, and relevant stakeholders.
Community engagement for better change through community empowerment
Community engagement is primarily about the practice of moving communities towards a better change through empowerment. Many different types of community empowerment approaches have worked to improve health services and health outcomes. In fact, most studies using community empowerment approaches has had a positive primary outcome.
GaneshAID develops powerful community empowerment models which include trained frontline health workers, community communication and collective action, ownership, and accountability of service providers, officials, and private organizations.
Our Community Empowerment strategies are based on robust partnerships between communities, policy makers, and health workers, providing feedback through results sharing with communities, channeling community resources to support programs, and promoting equity.
Digital Community Engagement at GaneshAID
Digital health during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the remarkable deployment of multiple digital solutions to cope with new challenges. GaneshAID’s health digital strategy supports the use of inclusive digital solution for community engagement to ensure that people can access the right information at the right time. GaneshAID’s health digital team develops solutions with the goal of having more communities participating in early detecting and preventing the spread of diseases as well as responding to the pandemic, including the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.
GaneshAID digital solutions for community engagement
Community engagement involves encouraging community to adopt healthy behaviors and share ideas about how health services can cope with evolving health needs. GaneshAID’s digital solution strategy targets Low-and-middle income countries to empower communities and health workforce. Digital technologies offer exceptional opportunities to improve community participation, helping them meet the changing needs in health.
GaneshAID collaborated with WHO and the country’s government to develop such digital solutions, with the shared vision of strengthening community health. Our innovations and new approaches aim at reinforcing people-centred service delivery, health workforce performance, health intelligence, supply chain resilience, health financing, as well as leadership and governance.
With the increasing accessibility of information online, GaneshAID provides community engagement enhancing services through digital solutions. We strive to develop user-friendly solutions for health education and promotion. A mobile application or a web-based training module allows community to engage themselves in interventions in health education and promotion. Flexibility by offering offline mode and portability are the key factors in community engagement projects at GaneshAID.
“Balance digital engagement with safe and appropriately resourced in-person engagement, to ensure that vulnerable groups and those who cannot access digital channels are not left behind.”WHO
Our digital solutions put forward a range of innovative activities for community to improve their lives. Comprehensive understanding of health essentials empowers them to be confident to deal with common diseases such as childhood diarrheal. A caregiver or a mother from remote areas can easily know how to give basic first aid for their child who got diarrheal disease at home with a click. They are also eager to learn about the risks and prevention of diarrheal diseases through lessons of sanitation and hygiene.
GaneshAID innovative activities target not only remote areas, but also urban areas. Our training modules provide comprehensive knowledge which informs urban community on how to live healthier lifestyle. Regardless of gender, age, locations, individuals from all communities can be equipped with the information about level of risks, treatments, and prevention of common diseases.
GaneshAID digital marketing for COVID-19 vaccines uptake
“On March 2021, there were 400 anti-vaccine accounts across the big social media platforms with over 60 million followers with many more people joining every day.”Center for Countering Digital Hate.
As vaccines became available for the COVID-19, countries face with the challenge of vaccine hesitant and resistant communities. There is a pressing need to generate demand in groups that are either unaware, vaccine hesitant, or actively resistant to COVID-19 immunization. Indeed, any delaying or avoiding immunization will cost more and more lives.
“Vaccine hesitancy is the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite availability of vaccination services.”SAGE Working Group on Vaccine Hesitancy (2015)
GaneshAID regularly conducts digital marketing campaigns for promoting immunization. The foundation of our campaign is to identify the barriers to vaccine uptakes including the COVID-19 vaccines within the community. Unfortunately, online anti-vaccination materials such as vaccine conspiracy theories may be one major cause in reducing immunization coverage. Likewise, the public belief in hidden information about vaccines is partly linked to general mistrust as well as the low quality of the communication and information system. Research also reveals that people tend to deliberately expose themselves to messages that confirm their pre-existing beliefs about vaccines. Compared to traditional media, the algorithm of social media actually prioritizes the content a user sees first by the likelihood that they’ll actually want to see it. Thus, it is more difficult to convince those prejudiced against vaccines to change their minds. Belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories was associated with sourcing information about COVID-19 from social media sources (especially YouTube). According to several studies, counterargument that emphasizes the positive impact of vaccines seems to have poor influence. Some examples of declarations with little impacts:
- Vaccination against the disease will “save lives”.
- Vaccination “help the community.”
- It will be dangerous if many people do not get vaccinated.
It is acknowledged that providing information itself is not sufficient to change people’s behaviors. It might be more useful to make the belongingness of affiliation with the community of vaccine acceptors more attractive so hesitant people or even antivaxxers would want to change their minds. This goal could be achieved by using emotional appeals or famous people to promote vaccines and to differentiate immunized cases and fail-to-immunize ones.
Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy is linked to primary social identity:
- Lack of trust in conventional medicine
- General conspiracy beliefs
- Information from social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram.
- Social identity – shared value among antivaxxers.
COVID-19 vaccine engagement or endorsement is influenced by:
- Economic insecurity and unemployment during the pandemic,
- Past benefit from vaccination in the past e.g. influenza vaccine,
- Self-perception to be at high risk from COVID-19.
- Social identity and communion with the majority of vaccine acceptors.
Nevertheless, vaccine confidence and hesitancy movement is mostly a matter of social identity rather than empirical belief.
GaneshAID works with communities, Ministries of Health, NGO and development partners to overcome those barriers through carefully targeted communication campaigns that use multiple strategies:
- Vaccine hesitant is treated sympathetically but without validating any false beliefs.
- Positive messaging on the benefits of immunization directly targeting unvaccinated or under-vaccinated populations.
- Disseminating vaccination information to raise people’s awareness.
- Informing the convenient access to vaccination.
- Engaging religious or other influential leaders to promote vaccination.