The Use of WhatsApp Group Messaging in the Coordination of Measles Supplemental Immunization Activity in Cross Rivers State, Nigeria, 2018

Pan Afr Med J. 2020 Jan 3;35(Suppl 1):6. doi: 10.11604/pamj.supp.2020.35.1.19216. eCollection 2020.

Abstract

Introduction: Cross Rivers State, in southern Nigeria, conducted measles Supplemental Immunization Activities (SIAs) in 2 phases from 2 -15 March, 2018. The SIAs coordination was led by the State technical coordination committee. A total of 90 supervisors from the national and subnational levels, including consultants were deployed to support the SIAs. The instant messaging service - WhatsApp was utilized to help in the communication and coordination among the State and field teams.

Methods: We reviewed the chat logs from the WhatsApp group exchanges made between 28 February 2018 and 31 March 2018. Thematic content analysis was done.

Results: A total of 653 WhatsApp messages were posted among the 55 group members during the study period, including text messages and media content. Eleven percent of the posts related to monitoring processes and data sharing, while posts related to vaccine logistics and waste management made up about 6% of the total. Overall coordination and deployment was covered in 6% of the posts. Forty percent of the media content showed vaccination service delivery and SIAs launching events or monitoring meetings in various areas. The coordination team used WhatsApp to send reminders to the field staff about data sharing, vaccine and waste management, as well as feedback on coverage and completeness of data sharing. The WhatsApp group discussions did not include most of the logistical and hesitancy challenges documented in the State SIAs technical report.

Conclusion: We recommend focusing group discussions on instant messaging platforms so that they can be used for problem solving and sharing best practices, integrating it with other supervisory processes and tools, as well as providing feedback based on processed data from the field.

Keywords: Africa; Measles elimination; Nigeria; SIAs; immunization.