UNICEF has awarded the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) an 18-month, $800,000 grant to fund an Interpersonal Communication for Immunization initiative. The initiative will include the development of a toolkit to strengthen frontline workers’ communication skills, helping them to address barriers to immunization uptake with their clients.
As the most influential source of information about vaccine behavior, frontline workers need communication skills that go beyond being able to provide basic information about vaccines – they need to be able to engage in positive and meaningful communication with their clients. When frontline workers are able to effectively communicate and connect with their clients, they can enable them to take ownership of their health and well-being and encourage the adoption of preventive behaviors, such as vaccinations. By improving frontline workers’ abilities to engage with and counsel their clients, this toolkit ultimately aims to help increase immunization uptake.
CCP will work closely with UNICEF and other immunization and communication experts from global, regional and country institutions to create the Interpersonal Communication and Immunization toolkit, which will be available in online and offline versions.
According to Amrita Gill-Bailey, CCP Team Lead for SBCC Programs, “An advisory board comprised of experts in training and capacity strengthening, interpersonal communication for improved immunization outcomes, vaccination, and health systems structures – including communities – will inform the development of a global toolkit that will be available across several platforms, languages and can be contextualized at local levels.”
The toolkit development process will take a human-centered design approach, so that the form and content of all materials will best fit the needs of frontline workers. The process will involve observing and speaking with immunization stakeholders along with the creation and testing of several prototypes.
Over its thirty years of social and behavior change communication work, CCP has brought global attention to the importance of high-quality interpersonal communication in service uptake and continuation. CCP’s projects have strengthened the communication capacity of frontline health workers in India, Nigeria, Nepal, and many other areas of the world. CCP has created numerous communication toolkits that provide training and job aids to improve health workers’ communication and client counseling skills. CCP is proud to be working with UNICEF to improve and promote effective communication around immunization.