Senegal's Organization for the Promotion of Traditional Medicine (PROMETRA) has received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Senegal's Organization for the Promotion of Traditional Medicine has received $1.5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will be used to research ways in which child vaccination programs can be improved in rural parts of Africa, where healthcare is often provided by traditional healers. It will benefit communities in Senegal, Benin and Nigeria.
Charles Katy, a senior researcher at the organization, known as PROMETRA, said the aim of the project is to try to understand what needs to happen for child vaccination programs to be improved in rural parts of the continent.
In many rural towns and villages, traditional healers are the first people parents contact if they have concerns about child immunization.
In isolated communities, they are parents' main source of information on the benefits of vaccinating children against tropical diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever and meningitis.
Katy said the grant will improve communication between rural and urban healthcare workers and shine light upon the perceptions of traditional healers charged with health education.
It is important that traditional healers and faith leaders feel their leadership roles are respected when international aid organizations arrive to vaccinate children.
With improved communication between healers and aid groups, rumors - such as the false perception some vaccinations act as birth control - can also be dispelled.
Katy said he hopes that the research will help remove obstacles to child vaccination programs in rural parts of Africa, as well as teaching aid providers about the different approaches and perceptions of respected traditional healers.