BY PHYLLIS MBANJE IN PLUMTREE
HEALTH stakeholders in Matabeleland South have adopted innovative strategies like “night shift” and bus stop vaccination to boost the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.
This comes after the authorities experienced hesitancy and nervousness with regards to vaccine uptake.
The province, which has fared extremely well in vaccine uptake, owes the success to strategies devised to cater for hard-to-reach communities, the fearful and the highly mobile groups which include artisanal miners.
Speaking at Sinotsi business centre in rural Bulilima during a vaccination session under the second COVID-19 blitz, provincial nursing officer Joyce Maposa said they resorted to ingenious solutions to counter fake news and vaccine conspiracy theories.
“Most of our districts suffered the most during the peak of the pandemic. This is because of their proximity to the borders with cross-border traders fuelling the spread,” Maposa said.
Commonly known as “injiva”, many of the cross-border traders skip borders, hence the belief that they might be the spreaders of the pandemic.
Explaining the bus stop vaccination strategy, Sibanda said after noticing that some communities were scared and hesitant to come forth for vaccination: “We devised a plan whereby we go to these people’s locations and vaccinate them in the comfort of their communities and familiar surroundings. When it is done in a group the fear disappears and many agree.”
On the “night shift” strategy she said: “For Insiza artisanal miners we adopted a strategy whereby we would go in the evening around 6pm to 7pm. It can be hard for nomadic artisanal miners to access formal health services during the day, so we target them during their time of resting.”
Matabeleland South provincial medical director Rudo Chikodzore said uptake had been good and pleasing, although they were experiencing challenges in border towns such as Beitbridge because of a highly-mobile population.
Decentralisation of services was one of the measures that helped push up the numbers while schoolchildren have been another low-hanging fruit.
“Beitbridge is still lagging behind, but we are pushing and hopefully they will catch up with the rest of the province,” Chikodzore said.
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