ZAMBOANGA CITY—Ministry of Health (MOH), through its Communication Management and Health Promotion Unit, organized a 2-day review on BARMM’s implementation of Covid-19 vaccination programs in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi on Feb. 9 -10, in this city.
Accordingly, the vaccination rollout in BaSulTa has increased by 10 percent, as the island provinces have high average total vaccination coverage of 30.11 percent compared to mainland provinces with an average coverage of 20.79 percent.
The provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi have fully vaccinated 26.84 percent, 24.37 percent, and 39.13 percent of their total population, respectively.
In mainland provinces, however, Maguindanao vaccinated 24.07 percent, while Lanao del Sur vaccinated 17.50 percent of their total population.
Among the best practices of health workers that help increased the vaccination rollout in the island provinces include: routine mobile and house to house vaccination; provision of incentives; no holidays and weekends schedule of vaccination; regular and untiring support of “men in uniform”; use of a one-dose Jansen vaccine in consideration of the distance to travel; effective education campaigns using radio that vaccine is free, safe, effective, and halal; and direct engagement and close coordination with local influencers and entities such as LGUs, traditional and religious leaders (fatwa) in various segments of the community.
BARMM health workers encourage more stakeholders, both in private and public sectors, to address the issues on vaccination programs faced by geographically challenged communities, and ask religious leaders in island communities to participate in order to achieve herd immunity.
MOH Information Officer Saida D. Ali mentioned that it was the first time that the communications management and health promotion unit held a program implementation review assessing the progress of COVID-19 vaccine roll out in the region.
“We will listen to the discussions and evaluate all concerns of the Health and Education and Promotions Offices (HEPOs) to address the contemporary issues in order to further increase vaccination uptake in the island provinces,” Ali said.
Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Abdulhalik M. Kasim emphasized the importance of proper coordination and collaboration among all stakeholders to address the vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccine confidence and trust of the communities.
“Proper messaging and channeling create demands from the community on how we can fight the deadly Covid-19. We should encourage all stakeholders both in the private and public sectors, as well as religious leaders in the island communities, to collaborate with each other in order to increase reach of the Covid-19 vaccination,” Dr. Kasim said.
Meanwhile, Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) Executive Director Ameen Andrew L. Alonto discussed the communication on media landscape which includes improving media relations, social media handling, and tackling misinformation or fake news.
“Let us check the sources of shared information, be familiar with legitimate websites of different media outlets and we should also consider that internet is not only the trusted source of information,” Alonto said.
The activity was made possible in partnership with the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF). (Kasan M. Usop, Jr./BIO)