Regionally, COVID-19 has had an adverse impact on the performance of immunization programs. Iraq is one of the countries whose national immunization program is confronting this impact, with the Ministry of Health advocating the use of strategic communication to improve vaccination coverage which has dropped since the start of the pandemic.
The Ministry is reviewing the communication strategy of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) to ensure it is up to date with emerging challenges. Supported by GHD|EMPHNET, the Ministry gathered representatives the central and provincial EPI, relevant departments at the Ministry, the WHO, UNICEF, and other relevant ministries at a stakeholder workshop in Baghdad between January 10 and 13, 2022. These representatives formulated the updated draft strategy, focusing on adjusting its following components to the current emergency:
- Building trust
- Using SBCC and RCCE
- Using evidence-based interventions and communication
- Determining audiences
- Managing information for the EPI
- Managing infodemics
- Coordinating multi-sectoral communication
- Communicating priority messages in recommended outlets
To speed up the strategy’s implementation, advocacy meetings will follow to gain support and commitment from various stakeholders, including political leaders, the media, and the community.
This current effort is a continuation of GHD|EMPHNET’s support to the Ministry. In 2017, GHD|EMPHNET supported the Ministry in developing the strategy with engagement from stakeholders working in education, religious affairs, and academia.