Working with EPI in Eswatini – Community Dialogue

First,  I wish you a happy new year. 2019 started for me in Eswatini with some of my family who visited me, it was awesome  🙂

Months after the first blog, and before going back to GSK Belgium, I’m sharing some memorable experiences. All this time, I’ve enjoyed every moment working with EPI (Expanded Programme on Immunization), CHAI, WHO, UNICEF and living in Eswatini.

Community Dialogue and sensitization to immunization impact

I participated to 2 community dialogues where the vaccination coverage of children under five was below the target for child vaccination. The main objectives of these meetings were:

  • To identify and address challenges faced by the Lubombo communities in participating fully in child health services and routine immunization.
  • To increase demand and utilization of immunization services amongst the religious refusals in the Shiselweni region.

These dialogue meetings with ‘hard to reach’ communities were prepared by EPI team in coordination with reginal health services and each took a full day. These activities are sponsored by the UNICEF in Eswatini.

Community Dialogue in Lubombo region 


The population gathered for a health education session then split in 2 groups for men and women’s involvement (above we see EPI manager educating women and children group while the EPI surveillance officer was with men’s group).

No slideshow or screens only explanations and questions/answers on health and services provided by MoH. EPI raised as well how immunization is preventing diseases to save and improve children’s life. Concerns and challenges of the community were collected and solutions discussed. At the end of the session, the attendees queued to receive vaccines (after checking ‘Child Health Card’), vitamine A and Albendazole (above the Regional EPI Focal person vaccinating a child) . That day I was lucky to contribute to the catch up vaccination session because the nurses were on strike.

Community Dialogue in Shiselweni region: In October, we drove 3h30min to reach an other ‘hard to reach population’. The challenge here was religious so we had the meeting in a primary school. The session was run the same way as the one in Lebombo except that the population received more services as there were more nurses (in September they were on strike).

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Eswatini experience continues, the more I see the more I like this country. Since august, I continued to hike and explore the country with the Natural History Society of Swaziland (NHSS) and with friends. I did birds watching for the 1st time: it was a pure pleasure and an unforgettable day with nice people and breath taking sceneries. Photos from Sander de Klerk will give you an idea: birding_malolotja_28_10_2018

For those who were inspired by the first blog to visit Eswatini : there is more to see 🙂 After 6 months I still have a list of places that are worth the travel. Below some photos from different hikes (Part 1).  

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  1. Wish you a awesome 2019 Malika. Enjoyed reading your blog summing up your Pulse work along with the excellent pictures. Thank you for sharing. Safe travels back home. The best in 2019.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth for the nice wishes and for your support during the 6 months. Your WhatsApp messages were cheering up Africa volunteers :-).
      Congratulations for your new role.
      All the best for 2019 and beyond and

  2. You must be so proud, my dear Malika, for participating in these programs which are really important in these regions.
    Swaziland looks a very beautiful country.
    Keep for you all these smiles you have seen especially from children (when they do not receive the vaccine… 😆)!!
    Bon retour ma chère, je te vois dans une semaine!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences of these Community Dialogues that you were able to participate in Malika. It seems like you have had many opportunities to go out into the field to support the education of people around the importance of healthcare. Wishing you all the best as you settle back into life at GSK.

  4. Well done Malika, I wish yo a wonderful year for you and your family! I hope that we will be able to meet to share our experiences and the training materials that I have developed for immunization! 🙂

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