WVI study shows faith leaders critical to COVID vaccine adoption

Catherine Omenda

World Vision Malawi has asked the Malawi government and other stakeholders to coopt faith leaders in disseminating information about the COVID-19 vaccine to wield public participation.

In a statement released by the World Vision and signed by its Officer in Charge, Catherine Omenda, a study conducted by the organisation in six countries across six regions of the World justifies the significance of faith leaders. 

The statement comes at a time when Malawi government has procured its first consignment of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that will be administered first to frontline health workers and senior citizens across the country early March this year. 

“Faith leaders have social capital and understand underlying norms and behaviors”, starts part of the statement.

“They are generally well-connected within their communities. They have the opportunity to address and engage with contextual barriers, promote sharing of accurate information and ensure individuals and families have the information they need to make decisions about the vaccine,” continues the statement.

While the Malawi government outlines that its procured consignment of the vaccine will carter for 20 percent of the country’s population, prioritising health workers, the elderly and those with underlying conditions, World Vision has appealed for special consideration of other vulnerable groups, especially refugees.

“While we acknowledge government’s roll out plan, it is important to pay attention to equitable distribution of the vaccine at the national level so that everyone regardless of their economic status, ethnicity, level of education, gender, religion, etc, are able to access it”, reads part of the statement.
Globally, World Vision has sadly noted the exclusion of refugees in most government vaccination plans.

“The mismatch between vaccine supply and demand is just one of the issues arising from the vaccination campaign.  In this regard, as Malawi Government determines who needs to be vaccinated first, they should think about those who usually get them last: refugees and populations in urban hotspots,” reads part of the statement.

Malawi has 48, 547 refugees and asylum seekers who reside at Dzaleka Refugee Camp.