The importance of strengthening public health systems based on primary health care in designing a successful vaccination strategy: an example of qualitative research in three regions of Senegal
Because of its low cost and its capability in reducing child mortality and morbidity, vaccination is considered a successful preventive deed in Low and Middle-Income Countries. In Senegal, vaccines are provided free of charge by the public health system, but the provision of the service is not evenly distributed between and within the Regions. Our study aimed at identifying barriers and enabling factors towards vaccination in three Regions of Senegal. Methods We performed 41 face-to-face
... face-to-face semi-structured interviews with health services' workers and three focus groups with local women in nine different structures in three different Regions of Senegal. We combined health workers' (HW) and mothers' points of view with direct observation in order to fulfill our purpose. Results We identified three groups of barriers -structural, personal and psychological -and many subthemes for each of them. Structural and personal barriers such as inadequacy of health structures, shortage of HW, lack of money, distance between villages and health facilities and lack of public transport, hamper mothers from utilising the vaccination service, even when they want to. The lack of effective communication between health personnel and mothers, the lack of collaboration between traditional and conventional medicine and the lack of trust in the public health system as a whole, are major problems to the vaccination uptake too. Conclusions The interlink of several elements in conditioning vaccination coverage suggests the need of implementing global and national strategies to overcome them. The key factor is the presence of a solid health system, publicly funded, based on primary health care. On the other hand, context-specific determinants cannot be detected based on global and non-specific information. The role of community health workers (CHWs) is crucial in overcoming wrong beliefs, lack of knowledge and distrust. They must be regarded as a bridge between HW and population. CHWs should be formally included in the organization of the socialhealth system, adequately formed and enhanced.