Project Lead(s): Ray Nji
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die from vaccine preventable diseases.
In Cameroon, this trend has been exacerbated in rural areas, where issues of access to healthcare and education continue to impact the vaccination rates of newborns and children.
The issue addressed by this project was low immunization uptake among newborns and children under 5 years of age. Television and radio programming, billboards, and town announcements have previously been utilized to raise community awareness.
The Kenkō Foundation introduced strategies that complimented other existing vaccination uptake promotion programs in Cameroon.
They developed a cost-effective vaccination SMS reminder system. Newborns and young children of vaccination age were registered in the system, which automatically generated a personalized vaccination calendar for each registered child.
The system automatically sent an SMS alert to parents each time their child's immunization appointment was approaching. If a parent did not possess a phone, a relative would have their telephone number linked instead, so that the guardian could eventually be notified.
Questionnaires were distributed to parents who participated in the project.
The project reached a total of 9,123 newborns and young children in rural areas of Cameroon. It established evidence that SMS alerts can play an important role in improving vaccination uptake for children.
Questionnaires revealed over 75% of parents valued the impact of the service, and that SMS reminders improved the adherence to vaccination schedules for their children. The personalized schedule for each parent and child proved helpful for parents. Conversely, 25% of respondents stated living in areas without network coverage created a barrier to receiving messages consistently.
The project garnered support from local hospitals and health workers, who noted that urban areas could benefit from an SMS reminder system as well.