Piramal Foundation Campaigns to Dispel Vaccine Hesitancy Across Tribal Districts in India

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Mumbai: Piramal Foundation, in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and USAID, under the aegis of Anamaya, Tribal Health Collaborative, launched the Aashwasan campaign to dispel COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, promote COVID appropriate behaviour, and actively find cases of tuberculosis among tribal population of India. In a phased manner, the campaign will cover all villages of blocks with over 25 per cent tribal population in 177 tribal districts.

Implemented by Piramal Foundation, the initiative has so far touched nearly 10 lakh beneficiaries in 49 districts across Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The key objectives of Aashwasan are to:

  • Generate awareness of COVID-19 and COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB)
  • Reduce vaccine hesitancy.
  • Improve epidemic preparedness by involving community influencers, faith leaders, tribal healers and others.
  • Build awareness of TB, identify people with presumptive TB and link them with public services for screening, diagnosis and treatment.

While efforts by the central and State governments with support from organisations have led to over 170 crore vaccine administrations, vaccine hesitancy in specific pockets of the country continues to be an issue due to fear, misconceptions, myths, and rumours. Addressing vaccine hesitancy is complex and context-specific. In tribal populations (over 104 million people) this necessitates a unique and customized approach to counter complex challenges of difficult terrain, limited health facilities and social discrimination that create disparity in their health status.

The Aashwasan campaign uses a multipronged approach to reach beneficiaries in tribal villages, dispel myths, misconceptions, rumours and allay fears:

  1. Develop micro plan to identify blocks and villages with low vaccination coverage by working closely with block and district administrations.
  2. Build greater understanding and allay fears about vaccination through workshops with Panchayat presidents, ward members, faith leaders, community influencers and others in high vaccine resistance blocks.
  3. Raise awareness of the benefits of vaccination and urge people to get vaccinated by co-creating solutions with community influencers.
  4. Heighten awareness about vaccination with the larger community by organising sessions in local markets and haat bazaars.
  5. Enable identification of locations for vaccination camps to maximize the reach of vaccination by supporting local administrations.