In recognition of the global benefits from immunisations, numerous developed countries, philanthropic organisations, and UN specialised agencies provide considerable funding support for the EPI in developing countries. Increasingly, the governments of these countries are also treating the EPI as a priority and allocating funds from their meagre resources for its implementation.
Although this means that there is a relatively good supply of vaccines to these countries, poor infrastructure and limited cold chain facilities continue to impede the satisfactory in-country storage and distribution of these vaccines. At the local community level, socio-cultural beliefs and traditional practices remain important barriers that limit widespread acceptance of vaccinations.
This comparative study in Sierra Leone is part of a wider anthropological research that entailed the conduction of larger studies in the Gambia and Guinea, and another small comparative study in Nigeria. The objectives are to determine how supply/ delivery and acceptance of immunisation at the local level is influenced by processes in the overall health care delivery system; how demand is shaped by socio-cultural knowledge, local aetiologies, rumours concerning disease and immunisation; and how the public reacts with frontline EPI workers.
The findings are expected to inform policy and contribute towards improving immunisation coverage in a socially sensitive, effective and sustainable manner.