ISLAMABAD: As the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted life for many, including children in need of routine immunisation, Unicef Pakistan and Facebook have launched a campaign to promote life-saving immunisation.

In countries like Pakistan, additional roadblocks as a result of the pandemic have been compounded by an existing hesitancy in some communities to vaccinate children as well as global disruptions to the delivery of immunisations.

For this reason, Facebook’s Data for Good team recently worked in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to better understand constraints to vaccine adoption in Pakistan with the objective to help the development sector have better insights for effective, local outreach.

UN official says interruption in health services has affected children

The campaign reached 7.2 million people in Pakistan, with post-campaign survey results showing that those exposed to the campaign were more inclined to vaccinate their children at a healthcare centre, Unicef announced on Monday.

“Interruption of health services due to Covid-19 has resulted in a large number of children missing out on their routine immunisation, increasing the risk of outbreaks of diseases in Pakistan,” says Unicef epresentative in Pakistan Aida Girma. “As the services have now resumed, collaboration with Facebook is helping us reach the most vulnerable children and those who were missed, through improved data services and an aggressive awareness campaign,” she added.

Working with the Unicef Pakistan Country Office, Facebook leveraged its Insights to impact and amplify the immunisation campaign from the government of Pakistan’s Facebook page.

The project was conducted in three stages and featured a campaign with the hashtag #VaccinesWork, which sought to promote the continuation of vaccination for children during Covid-19, particularly at healthcare centres. An accompanying video campaign also featured easy-to-understand animations with guidelines on how to encourage vaccination during the pandemic.

“To support Unicef in their effort to increase routine immunisation, we leveraged insights from the Facebook platform and tested the effectiveness of various types of content. Overall, the results of this effort demonstrate the Facebook platform’s potential to disseminate public health information as well as the importance of working with partners like Unicef to achieve positive health outcomes for communities,” said Kadeem Khan, associate research manager, Facebook Data for Good.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2020

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