Maintaining and sustaining high immunization coverage is a collective effort

Written by Ms. Funmilayo Adewumi

Representatives of Nigerian Civil Societies Organizations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have jointly said that maintaining and sustaining high immunization coverage is a collective effort and not just the responsibility of the Government. These efforts requires all hands to be on deck towards attaining the goal of high immunization coverage in the country. This statement was made at the one-day sensitization meeting on African Vaccination Week (AVW) with NGOs and CSOs organized by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in collaboration with Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) and other members of the National AVW Planning Committee. The meeting which held on Thursday, 12th April 2018 at the NPHCDA Headquarters, Garki Abuja welcomed 79 participants ranging from representatives of NPHCDA, partners, and 25 different CSOs and NGOs. Its purpose was to sensitize participants on plans to commemorate the AVW at both national and subnational levels, as well as to brainstorm on how CSOs and NGOs can best support these activities accordingly. Director, Advocacy and Communications, NPHCDA, Dr. Eugene Ivase, noted that the sensitization meeting was remarkable in the history of AVW commemoration in Nigeria. He said: ‘Although NPHCDA and CSOs have been closely collaborating on issues of primary health care importance, especially in the area of immunization, this sensitization meeting is special because it is the first time that NGOs, CSOs and NPHCDA are coming together to brainstorm on the commemoration of AVW’. He then acknowledged WAVA’s contributory role in bringing CSOs together for this event and expressed hope that it would lead to sustainable partnerships with NPHCDA beyond commemoration of AVW.

Dr. Onuchukwu Chukwuma representing the Pediatric Association of Nigerian (PAN), which chairs the interim steering committee of the Nigerian Gavi CSO platform, now known as the Expanded Civil Society Initiative on Immunization (ESCII), spoke on behalf of the platform, noting that, ‘CSOs in Nigeria have come a long way in Nigeria and have been impactful in various aspects of national development. Gavi’s decision to invest in the Gavi CSO project is a testimony to her belief in the strategic role CSOs have played in supporting political will and strengthening systems. As we prepare for and celebrate the AVW, a very significant event of our platform and for every CSO here present, we must ensure continuous support for our communities by reminding them that Vaccines Work and they can Be Immunization Champions.

Lending support to the call, Mrs. Chika Offor, Chief Oversight Officer, Vaccine Network for Disease Control, WAVA member and member of the ECSII interim steering committee, encouraged all to use this week for intensified advocacy, seeing that the national immunization coverage is unacceptably low. Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Ayo Ipinmoye, National Coordinator ACOMIN, appreciated the NPHCDA for acknowledging the roles of CSOs in pushing forward immunization agenda in the country. He expressed commitment to fully support and deploy creative assets towards a successful AVW commemoration.

The African Vaccination Week (AVW) is an annual event celebrated during the last week of April in synchronization with the World Immunization Week (WIW) in the World Health Organization (WHO) regions. Celebrated annually since 2011, AVW provides an opportunity for countries to strengthen immunization services and systems by raising awareness and keeping immunization high on the national and regional agenda through advocacy and partnerships. The purpose of the AVW celebration is to increase awareness on the importance of every person’s need and right to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases in the African Region.

The celebration of AVW in Nigeria is coordinated by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in close partnership with immunization partners and advocates. With the over-arching slogan “Vaccinated communities, Healthy communities,” this year’s theme for the African region is “Vaccines work, do your part.” However, Nigeria has adopted the country-specific theme “Vaccines work, be an immunization champion.” AVW activities in Nigeria will be staged from 23rd to 29th April 2018, as a collaborative effort between the NPHCDA, SPHCDAs, development partners and CSOs. Mrs. Hammanyero Kulchumi of WHO Nigeria, and Mr. Musa M. Abubakar of NPHCDA, provided details of the activities planned to mark the AVW at national and subnational levels as follows:

  • Thursday, 12th April: CSO engagement meeting
  • Friday, 20th April: Breakfast meeting with the private sector and other stakeholders to mobilize support for routine immunization and PHC services
  • Saturday, 21st April: National walk, health education advocacy and vaccination outreach to poor performing and under-served communities in the FCT
  • Monday, 23rd April: Executive Director NPHCDA’s press conference on AVW
  • Tuesday, 24th April: Media engagement activities and radio talks
  • Wednesday, 25th April: Creative art competition for secondary school students
  • Thursday, 26th April: National stakeholder meeting and recognition award ceremony

Both speakers encouraged participants to fully support these activities noting that in addition, a 3-day optimized intensified routine immunization services will be provided in high priority states including FCT. Participants coalesced into groups to identify specific areas of support towards the AVW. Reviewing the advocacy toolkits (which included infographics, tweet-sheets and information briefs on immunization) provided by the national AVW planning committee, all CSOs present committed to deploying the toolkit and other creative assets to support state level activities during the AVW.

In closing, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, National Convener, WAVA, who was represented by Ms. Funmilayo Adewumi, expressed gratitude to all who made time to attend this highly important meeting. She emphasized that an important part of AVW this year is the launch of Optimized Integrated Routine Immunization Sessions (OIRIS) in several states. OIRIS is NPHCDA’s priority program to improve routine immunization delivery in low performing states. She encouraged participants to join the conversation on social media, using the #AVWng and #SupportImmunization hashtags, and to follow @wavaorg on twitter for updates. She also urged all to follow through with their commitments towards the AVW to ensure that no child is left out or deprived of life-saving vaccines.

Below is the list of government, CSOs, and NGOs represented at the meeting:

  • African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET)
  • African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD>
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Center for Social Justice (CSJ)/li>
  • Civil Society On Malaria Immunization And Nutrition (ACOMIN)
  • Citizens’ Health Education and Development Initiative (CHEDI)
  • Community Health Research Initiative (CHR)
  • COVIAN/ Afrihealth
  • Geonita Initiative for Women and Child Development (IWACHD)
  • Federation of Muslim Women’s Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN)
  • International Federation of Women Lawyers, (FIDA)
  • Innovative Solution to Community Development Initiative (ISD)
  • FCT Primary Health Care Board
  • Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD)
  • International Society for Media in Public Health (ISMPH)
  • Kids and Teens Resource Center (K&TRC)
  • Islamic Youth League (IYL)
  • Lawyers Alert
  • Lenscope Media
  • Maternal Child Survival Project (MCSP)
  • Medicaid Cancer Foundation
  • National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)
  • New Generational Destiny Initiative (NADI)
  • Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN)
  • Preston Development Foundation
  • Private Health Sector Alliance of Nigeria (PHN)
  • Public and Private Development Center (PPDC)
  • Silver Lining for the Needy Initiative
  • Vaccine Network for Disease Control
  • Rotary International
  • Traffina foundation for Child Health
  • Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA)
  • World Health Organization

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