Kapoka is an area situated to the North East of Chitipa Boma about 26 Km away. This area has a population of 1,536 people served by Kapoka Health Post and Chitipa District Hospital. Kapoka was one of the areas that got the first consignment of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine was being offered at Kapoka Health Post in the area. Just like it is coming out in other parts of Malawi, myths about the vaccine were rampant in the area fueling fears about getting the vaccines. Such myths in Kapoka area included that whosoever gets the vaccine turns into a Satanist or a Zombie. This resulted in a lot of resistance from the communities surrounding Kapoka Health Post towards Covid-19 vaccine.
Fearing that this myth would put the lives of many people at the risk of missing out on the lifesaving vaccine. the District Health Office (DHO) through District Health Promotion Officer devised strategies for dissemination of messages on the importance of Covid-19 vaccine. In June 2021, the DHO in conjunction with MANASO orientated Community Based Organizations (CBOs) across Chitipa district. This was made possible with funding from USAID through FHI360. The trained CBOs, were engaged in the dissemination of right Covid-19 vaccine messages that aimed to dispel myths and misconceptions about the vaccine
One of the CBOs from the area, Namukolwe, sought an audience with their Senior Group Village Headman (SGVH) Mwenekapoka soon after they had been oriented. They encouraged the SGVH to get the vaccine after they had provided him with the right information about the vaccine. When the SGVH got vaccinated, the CBO involved him during their drama performances where the SGVH would act as a champion for Covid-19 vaccine. The SGHV would show his vaccination card to the audience, tell them that he got vaccinated and ask them if they were seeing a zombie before them
During a monitoring visit conducted by MANASO and the MoH, Matias Mulenga, Chairperson for Namukolwe CBO, explained that their strategy worked wonders as many people were now positive towards the vaccine. His sentiments were supported by Mr. Bright Chawinga, Senior Health Surveillance Assistant for the area who said there is tremendous change on perceptions towards the vaccine by the community
“We received 60 doses of Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday 27th July 2021; the following day, all the doses were finished. More people are demanding for the vaccine but we do not have any in stock now.”
Bright Chawinga, Senior Health Surveillance Assistant for Kapoka area.