The significant amount of misinformation surrounding COVID-19 has deteriorated trust in governments and health systems, leading the World Health Organization to claim it as an “infodemic.” As the massive vaccine roll-out efforts launch, systematic trust-building and social accountability approaches are vital to ensure that civil society can hold governments accountable for equitable and people-centered vaccine roll-out that reaches the last mile. CARE knows that epidemics, like COVID-19 and Ebola, start and end with communities, which is why we are working to build meaningful citizen engagement into national vaccine roll-out frameworks to increase trust, accountability, and information dissemination.
CARE’s Community Score Card
The Community Score Card (CSC) was developed by CARE Malawi in 2002 and has been effectively used in a wide range of settings and sectors to ensure that public services are accountable to the people and communities they serve. CSC has demonstrated impact on power-shifting and improving service quality and trust building within and between communities and government actors. When COVID-19 arrived in Malawi during March 2020, CARE adapted CSC for remote use. The remote CSC includes an SMS platform and WhatsApp groups through which groups of men, women, youth, community and religious leaders, and service providers could voice their concerns and hesitancies about the vaccine and other health services. The CSC helped to identify major concerns around the vaccine and aided stakeholders in creating locally-driven solutions to combat vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.
Building on these early experiences, from May to June 2021, CARE further implemented a pilot project designed to support efficient and equitable COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in three locations in Malawi: Kandeu and Chigodi health facility catchment populations in Ntcheu district and the New Hope Clinic health facility catchment population in Ngolowindo in Salima district. In all three locations, key stakeholders included groups of women, men, youth, community leaders (chiefs and religious), district health management teams, and health personnel (including health surveillance staff, health facility staff in-charge, and the health center management committee). CARE Malawi’s CSC team led the implementation of the pilot with support from CARE USA and digital support from Kwantu.