Written by Ijeoma Michael and Funmi Adewumi
The WAVA coalition being a national network of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) focused on immunization advocacy, with core tenets in capacity building, networking and resourcing, has been identified by the Oversight and Advisory Group (OAG) of Gavi CSOs constituency project as a platform with the potential to enable Gavi achieve increased immunization access through the work of WAVA member organizations across the country. In line with Gavi’s mission to increase immunization access to underserved populations in poor countries, the Gavi constituency CSOs platform was set up to support improved immunization coverage and build stronger health systems within Gavi priority countries around the world. The OAG provides oversight and technical support for the project, with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) serving as grants manager.
On Thursday, 16th November 2017, the OAG of the Geneva-based Gavi CSOs constituency platform, paid a courtesy visit to the WAVA Secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria. The OAG delegation’s goal was to meet and engage with the WAVA coalition to understand it’s structure and operations and to explore potentials for future collaborations.
Joining the meeting remotely from Baltimore, the WAVA National Convener, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, welcomed the delegation and appreciated them for recognizing WAVA’s contributions towards increasing immunization access in Nigeria. She further assured the delegation that WAVA stands ready to work with them in building strong partnerships and programs that will deliver the results we all desire. While noting the need to strengthen CSOs’ technical, operational and financial management capabilities, she emphasized the imperative to provide CSOs access to funding windows that would empower them to reach the unreached and give voice to the voiceless.
In the same vein, Dr. Shola Dele-Olowu, MD of Direct Consulting and Logistics (DCL), which hosts the WAVA Secretariat, welcomed the delegation including Dr. Clarisse Loe Loumou and Dr. Dorothy Esangbedo, Gavi CSO Steering Committee, Patrick Bertrand, Global Health Advocates, Dr. Olufunbi Olaogun, Catholic Relief Services and Olugbenga Abejide, Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria. WAVA member organizations present at the visit were Citizens’ Health Education and Development Initiative (CHEDI), Education as a Vaccine (EVA), Geonita Initiative for Women and Child Development (IWACHD), Islamic Youth League (IYL), Jummai Aduda Organization (JAO), and Vaccine Network for Disease Control (VNDC).
During the visit, CSOs within the WAVA coalition were invited by the OAG to join the Gavi CSOs platform. They added that potential gains of being part of the platform include further increasing CSOs’ capacity to access Gavi Health System Strengthening (HSS) grants, positioning CSOs as relevant partners with government, increasing synergy among CSOs, as well as improving efficiency in the implementation and monitoring of CSOs’ immunization activities. Bearing in mind the current poor immunization coverage rate in Nigeria as published in the 2015/2016 NICs/MICs report, the OAG emphasized that the ultimate goal is to ensure that CSOs work in a more coordinated manner to guarantee that vaccines reach every eligible child.
At the conclusion of the meeting the WAVA Secretariat committed to prompt dissemination of information about the Gavi CSO platform to her members, and to mobilizing them to join the Platform. More information will be forth coming from the Platform as soon as they complete their ongoing restructuring. So stay tuned.