My experience of the Immunisation Advocacy Champions project
This blog was written by registered nurse & Immunisation Advocacy Champion, Mpho Shelile, Lesotho.
The Immunisation Advocacy Champions’ project seeks to promote and facilitate peer-to-peer support to encourage greater leadership among nurses and midwives with regards to promoting vaccine equity and acceptance. It also aims to support advocacy efforts to influence global health policymakers around issues relating to immunisation. Through this project, I have managed to encourage other nurses and midwives in Lesotho to participate in varying immunisation promotion activities and it is through this that I discovered my passion for infant and children’s health. I am now working with the children’s health programme in capacity building, performance monitoring and research. Working with my colleagues, who are in nursing and midwifery made me realise the importance of volunteering at their workplaces for me to gain their commitment to immunisation advocacy.
This project has afforded me an incredible opportunity to collaborate with colleagues around the world in designing and leading webinars where I exercised my communication and interpersonal relationship capabilities. Furthermore, the podcasts which we were involved in helped me unleash my communication and public speaking skills. The storytelling training that we went through was an eye-opener for me. It taught me how to use stories to influence behaviour in public speaking or in one-to-one communication.
As Immunisation Advocacy Champions, we collaborated to develop a short film to showcase our experiences of taking part in this initiative, to highlight the impact and encourage our fellow nurses to share their stories to influence global vaccine access and acceptance. That exercise amplified my confidence during interviews and gave me an invaluable experience.
The other role of the Immunisation Advocacy Champions was to write blogs to illustrate the advocacy work of nurses and midwives in promoting vaccine equity and acceptance, demonstrating the power of their experiences and sharing them using storytelling techniques. This exercise complemented my academic role of publishing research articles and further strengthened my writing skills.
Participating in global events to share our experiences was the most incredible opportunity offered by the project. This year I attended the East Central and Southern African College of Nursing and Midwifery (ECSACONM) and the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) which were held in Eswatini and Qatar respectively.
At the ECSACONM conference, I shared my advocacy work with colleagues from the region through oral presentations. The most important highlight from this conference is that I was elected as the National Representative of Lesotho to the ECSACONM 2022-2026 Cabinet.
At the WISH Summit, we continued to share our advocacy work and engaged with nurse leaders and other global health stakeholders. This Summit was a good learning and networking platform for me.