• Dr James Duah — Deputy Executive Director,  Christian Health Association of Ghana
• Dr James Duah — Deputy Executive Director, Christian Health Association of Ghana

CHAG commends chiefs, religious leaders for COVID-19 vaccination role

The Deputy Executive Director of the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), Dr James Duah, has commended chiefs, traditional leaders, herbalists and Muslim Clerics for their contribution towards the fight against COVID-19.

“We used these eminent people because they are trusted people, their messages to churches, communities, mosques and traditional treatment centres were taken seriously”. 

Dr Duah, who was commenting on a project commissioned on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the country, added, “to begin with, these authorities demonstrated to their communities by first taking the COVID-19 vaccines themselves”.

As part of activities under CHAG’s COVID-19 and Institutional Capacity Building (CRIB) project, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), a survey was conducted to understand the situation of vaccine hesitancy in 39 districts.

The FCDO sought to support the government's response to the COVID-19 through strengthening Ghana's health systems to maintain the delivery of essential healthcare services.

The programme actively started COVID-19 vaccination and campaign. 


“We went on a house-to-house campaign, finding reasons why people were not vaccinating and gave people the opportunity to vaccinate.

“This approach ensured that a lot of people got answers to questions they had which made them hesitant in taking the vaccine.

“Our staff were also very aggressive moving from community to community, including construction sites, schools, churches etc and were able to reach out to many people and got them vaccinated,” Dr Duah stated.


On compelling reasons that could have made the people to freely accept the vaccine, he said most people did not trust the vaccine.

“They indicated that the healthcare system did not explain enough about the vaccine and why people should feel safe.

“What made matters worse, was, when the manufacturers issued disclaimers – indemnity that if anything happens, they should not be held liable”, Dr Duah explained.

He said, that contributed to the huge mistrust for the vaccines, “furthermore, people held onto the social media view that vaccine development takes a long time but in the case of COVID-19, it took less than one year to do so and thereby fueling suspicion, mistrust and hesitancy”.

He said some people were worried about fertility issues and suspected the vaccine could have negative impact on fertility.

Some men thought it would make them impotent.

Asked what CHAG did to get the people change their minds, Dr Duah said, “we adopted several strategies.”

He said one of the strategies was the use of the religious leaders, who were trusted members of the society.

“As these men took the vaccines, their followers believed it was safe.

Again, our staff took the vaccines themselves in front of the people and thus encouraged the people to also take the vaccine,” he said, adding that the house-to-house messaging was also helpful.

He said the lessons learned from the CRIB project clearly showed that the government alone could not respond to pandemics: it took partnerships and several collaborative efforts.

Dr Duah further observed that using religious and traditional leaders was valuable in addressing hesitancy.

The Deputy Executive Director added that the survey also showed that most people preferred TV as a medium for communicating on important health matters, including the COVID-19.

Touching on the outcome of the report on the survey, Dr Duah explained that it had been able to generate data that was captured in the District Health Information Management System          (DHIMS 2) and Sueveillance Outbreak Response Management System (SORMAS).

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