Doreen Tuhebwe is a research associate at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences, School of Public Health. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health Sciences and a Master of Public Health from Makerere University. Doreen supports the MPH student mentorship program and coordinates the MPH field attachment course (Field Studies) and steers the MakSPH graduate students’ support secretariat.
She has experience in the implementation of research and service projects and coordinating ethnography studies. In 2015 Doreen was a co-investigator of the USAID Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge “Designing an isolation Unit for Infectious Pathogens” Doreen is a founder member of the MakSPH-MPH Alumni Association and a member of the Environmental Health Workers’ Association of Uganda (EHWAU).
Sabin Social & Behavioral Research Project
Improving HPV Vaccine Acceptance Through Peer-to-peer Education Among Adolescent Girls in the Urban Poor Settings of Kisenyi, Kampala, Uganda
Doreen Tuhebwe, a research associate from the Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala, Uganda, analyzed the effectiveness of peer group participation models to improve human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine uptake in poor urban settings. The study aimed at training and empowering vaccinated adolescent girls aged 10-14 living in Kisenyi to effectively advocate for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine uptake among unvaccinated girls in their neighbourhood using a peer-to-peer education approach. The principles of human centered design, persuasion, social networks and repeat socialization were applied in the study.
In the reporting year (August 2019-March 2020), the HPV V-UP study team conducted peer educator mentorship meetings with 18 girls in Kisenyi. Through the study, a total of 145 girls who had not received the HPV vaccine were identified by the peer educators and interested to take up the vaccine. After a period of 12 weeks follow up, 88/145 girls from Kisenyi had received their first doze of the vaccine.
The study team at MakSPH found that using the peer education approach for immunization is feasible in the urban poor context and peer educators can improve the attitudes of girls and their caretakers towards the HPV vaccine and potentially increase acceptance. Through a peer-to-peer education approach, unvaccinated girls can be identified, engaged, convinced and supported to overcome vaccine refusal. They recommend that during demand creation for the HPV vaccine all key influencers of the “vaccination decision making pathway” should be engaged especially the caretakers.