Our project to assess and address vaccine confidence using a local, women-designed technology demonstrated that the use of participatory methods and tools to develop and disseminate voice-based social media messages improved both knowledge of, and confidence in, vaccination against COVID-19 in underserved peri-urban communities in Bamako, Mali.
The project used a mix of qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods, including individual interviews and focus groups discussions. The project relied and built on a participatory evaluation of social and gender norms conducted in the target community before the project began.
The key results of this project include:
- 100% of women who accessed voice-based health messages demonstrated improved knowledge about the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19
- 75% of women who used the application expressed confidence in vaccination against COVID-19
- 73% of women who used the application shared the information they learned with others
- 60% of women who used the application felt better equipped to convince others to get vaccinated against COVID-19
Part of the purpose of the project was to generate lessons for how to use social media tools and messages to address vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. Our particular focus was on hard-to-reach populations in marginalized communities, especially women. Drawing from both our work to develop Kènèya Blon, and its application to COVID-19 vaccination, we summarize our lessons learned as:
- Community driven: A tool designed by women living in peri-urban communities to increase access to health information proved to be relevant and impactful, despite limited access to information technology; when trying to meet the needs of hard-to-reach or marginalized communities, they should be involved at every step, including data collection and technology design
- Targeted: Technology and digital interventions must be adapted to the realities of each community or population it is trying to serve; this adaptation can include the form and function of the application or the types of content used (language, images, etc.), but also contextual factors such as social/gender norms, the kinds of misinformation circulating, etc.
- Coordination: When coordinating with offline health or vaccination services, ensure the quality and availability of a respondent for interactions with users, as well as the quality and availability of the vaccination service at the health center level; when possible, train these providers in the use of digital tools/messages being used in their communities
- Ongoing: Campaigns implemented once or over a limited period of time will lose impact over time; the dissemination of messages relating to COVID-19 must be ongoing and consistent until public health and vaccination targets are reached
- Accessible technology: Though access to technology is increasing, it will continue to be a limiting factor for millions, especially for women who have limited skills or experience that allow them to use it effectively. This project recommends the integration of relevant, local digital tools into mobilization strategies around vaccination against Covid-19 while also continuing the search for strategies that can share voice-based messages on the types of phone and technologies that are most available to marginalized communities
- Mixed methods: Promote the use of the digital tools within target communities with on-the-ground and face-to-face strategies to build trust