The contribution of communication in measles immunization in rural Uganda: A case study of Bugabula County, Kamuli District
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Informed by the Diffusion of Innovation Theory as advanced by Everett Rogers (1995), this study sought to explore the appropriate communication campaigns in measles immunisation and their contribution to the successful implementation of the exercise in rural Uganda. This was done by seeking explanation to the socio-cultural factors that influence interpersonal and group communication for measles immunisation in rural areas and how the community responds to them. Survey data was collected from 178 parents/guardians of children under five years of age. A total of 108 of these were female though the original design was to get an equal number of male and female parents/guardians. There were also 15 key informant interviews and FGDs to provide detailed information on various aspects of the study. The study found that there is a very high level of awareness of immunisation against measles in the area of study. It noted that media-oriented communication campaigns especially the radio had to some extent, played an important role in delivering messages for immunisation against measles in rural communities. But even if the mass media campaigns reach many people and are quite cheap--compared to other campaigns—this study demonstrated that rural areas have little or even no access to the mass media. The majority of the population is semi-literate, has no access to television and newspapers. Some of those with access to radio prefer entertainment programmes (especially music) to healthcare programmes like those focusing on immunisation against measles. It also showed that there are a number of socio-cultural factors that affect the way healthcare messages are shared at the interpersonal and group levels in the rural communities. Among the key recommendations of the study was the integration of community and opinion leaders into the existing communication campaigns to enhance the success of immunization programmes in the rural areas. Others include the need to provide timely and accurate information to women—mainly because they are the ones who normally stay at home most of the time and face competing demands at household level. Communication campaigns should also seek to correct the myths and misconceptions based on traditional beliefs, values and practices that prohibit some parents and/or guardians from taking their children for immunization. Although the findings of this study cannot be said to be true for all parts of the country, they are a major indicator of the situation in most rural areas. There is a lot that can be done as a follow-up to this study. Most notably, a comparative study of the media-oriented campaigns and socially constructed communication campaigns on influencing health care seeking behaviour in rural areas needs to be undertaken.