Ninety per cent of Kenyans believe vaccination is safe and effective for their children, a study has revealed.
Kenya, according to a study done by researchers from Wellcome Global Monitor, is among the top countries whose citizens trust vaccines and value their importance.
The survey released last week shows people’s confidence in the healthcare system with over 80 per cent of its population having trust in doctors, nurses and scientists.
The study, which globally surveyed over 140,000 people in 144 countries, shows 79 per cent of people strongly agree that vaccines are safe while 84 per cent agree or somewhat agree they are effective.
Like in Kenya, the findings show that Africa has greater trust and take-up of vaccines than any other continent, with countries such as Nigeria and Rwanda having the greatest confidence globally.
In the study researchers say vaccines are very critical healthcare tools in tackling preventable diseases. They call for deliberate measures by governments and scientists to build public trust in vaccines in areas where it is still low.
Additionally, the researchers call for strong health supply and infrastructure systems to address difficulties in accessing vaccines.
ABILITY TO PAY
Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome Global Monitor, says although science gives solutions and abilities to improve health and save lives, public trust is the most important. “No matter how exciting the treatment, clever the delivery method, or robust science, it cannot make a difference without the confidence and support of the society in which it works,” says Dr Farrar.
He adds that there is a need to “ensure communities in Africa and around the world are at the heart of research, build their trust and make sure they have ownership of new approaches, and ensure advances are available to all who could benefit, regardless of their ability to pay.
To build trust and dispel the myths and misconceptions about vaccines around the world, the World Health Organisation has launched a social media (facebook, twitter, Instagram) platform where their experts answer questions about vaccines.
In a statement, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, says the aim is to ensure users find facts about vaccines on Instagram, Facebook Search, Groups, Pages and forums where people seek information and advice.
Facebook will direct millions of its users to WHO’s accurate and reliable vaccine information platform in several languages to ensure vital health messages reach people who need them the most.
“The World Health Organisation and Facebook have been in discussions for several months to ensure people can access authoritative information on vaccines and reduce the spread of inaccuracies,” he says.
He says vaccine misinformation is a major threat to global health that could reverse decades of progress made intackling preventable diseases.
“Think measles, diphtheria, hepatitis, polio, cholera, yellow fever, influenza, all these can be eradicated by preventive measures which is going for vaccination,” he says.
Dr Ghebreyes says major digital organisations have a responsibility to their users to ensure they can access facts about vaccines and health and it would be great to see social and search platforms come together to leverage their combined reach. “We want digital actors doing more to make it known around the world that vaccines work. We want innovation that supports healthy behaviours to save lives and protect the vulnerable. So many children whose parents fully support vaccination currently lack access to these life-saving tools,” he says.
A statement from Facebook acknowledged they were rolling out more ways to connect people with authoritative information about vaccines. “We are working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic,” says the statement.
Steps that will be taken by Facebook include reducing the ranking of groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccines in News Feed and Search. These groups and pages will not be included in recommendations or predictions when you type into Search.
“When we find ads that include misinformation about vaccinations, we will reject them. We will also remove related targeting options, like “vaccine controversies”. For ad accounts that continue to violate our policies, we may take further action, such as disabling the ad account,” says the statement. “We are exploring ways to give people more accurate information.”