Four hundred Pharmacists have been trained as COVID-19 vaccine educators in the Ashanti, Central, and Greater Accra regions.
The training was carried out by Community Practice Pharmacists Association of Ghana (CPPA) in collaboration with Total Family Health Organization (TFHO) and Ghana Health Service, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
For a start, 28 pharmacists were invited from all CPPA regional branches in the country, including members of the Young Pharmacists Group (YPG) for the Training of Trainers (TOT) programme held in Accra from 21 to June 24, 2022.
They were trained as facilitators to train up to 400 Pharmacists who would carry out the education campaign in various schools from July to September 2022.
Mr Joseph Addo-Yobo, Executive Director of TFHO, said the collaboration would deploy the trained Pharmacists to assigned tertiary and second cycle institutions, within their regions, to conduct COVID-19 Interpersonal Communication (IPC) sessions.
These sessions, he said, would address vaccine hesitancy and promote uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. It is targeted at educating about 500,000 students.
Mr Addo-Yobo encouraged CPPA members to disseminate COVID-19 vaccine information and promotional materials within their regions and provide monthly activity reports, using the format prescribed by TFHO.
Over 400 Pharmacists signed on for the cascading training which took place in the three regions on July 5 and 6, 2022 in Ashanti Region; July 6 and 7, 2022 in Accra, and July 7, 2022, in the Central Region.
The training, facilitated by Dr Vera Asante, and Dr Janet Aidoo, covered topics such as Understanding COVID-19 vaccines (Development and benefits), Understanding COVID-19 vaccines (Efficacy and Side Effects), Myths, Misconceptions and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and Role of Educators and expected results/reporting.
Mr Oluwole Kwabena Adeusi, a communications consultant, took participants through the use of Interpersonal Communication (IPC) in COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
In his welcoming address, Dr Emmanuel Kwaku Ireland, National Chairman of CPPA, informed participants that PSGH led a team to present two position papers to Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Minister of Health.
Following that, CPPA was involved in the committee set up by the Minister of Health to develop guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for COVID-19 Antigen Testing by Community Pharmacists in Ghana.
The committee also developed guidelines for vaccination against COVID-19 and other Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in Community Pharmacies.
They are yet to be approved by the Minister of Health for implementation.
Officials from the Foods and Drugs Authority were present at all training sites to educate participants on Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFIs) and contributed to discussions on myths and FAQs on COVID vaccines.
The Cascade training session held in the Greater Accra region was attended by Mr Stephen Bonah, the PSGH Greater Accra Regional Chairman.
In his remarks, he reemphasised that the project would equip the Pharmacists with the right knowledge on the different types of Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in Ghana.
Mr Bonah urged participants to take the training seriously since it would position them strategically to address all myths and misconceptions about Covid-19 vaccines.
In the Central Region, Madam Abena Esia-Donkoh, Chairperson, Central Regional branch of PSGH, said it was the mandate of participants and their professional responsibility to ensure that the populace was well informed about COVID-19 vaccines and the need for vaccination.
She urged them to take the training seriously in order to reach the masses with the right information to clear doubts and myths about COVID infection, vaccines and vaccination.
Dr Mrs Vera Asante is the team lead for the CPPA/TFHO project assisted by Dr Mrs Pauline Badu-Bonsu and Mrs Priscilla Asareduah Kwofie. Dr Samuel Nkansah is a consultant for the Project.