Members of WAVA including DCL consultants, Vaccines Network for Disease Control (VNDC), International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH), TechHer, and African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD) celebrated the 6th African Vaccination Week (AVW) with the wife of Kebbi State Governor and CEO of Medicaid, Dr Zainab Bagudu, through a social media advocacy campaign to raise awareness on the benefits of immunization and sustainable immunization financing. The week-long event which took place from April 24 – 30, 2016 was tagged: ‘Close the immunization gap. Stay polio free!’
The AVW started with a national press conference led by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Monday, April 25 and was followed by a tweet-a-thon on immunization messages. About 40 key immunization messages and 15 e-fliers were developed and used for the advocacy. The messages were shared regularly on various social media platforms including popular regulars Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp, using the hashtags #NigeriaImmunize, #AVWng2016 and #NigFundVaccines.
On April 26, a press statement was issued by WAVA on AVW as well as its participation in a health advocacy breakfast meeting with Nigeria Health Watch, One Campaign and Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON).
The highlight of the social media activities was a tweet chat with Dr Zainab Bagudu on April 27. The day also featured a live radio appearance by Dr Chizoba Wonodi (WAVA convener) and Dr Laz Eze (DCL) on 99.5 Wazobia FM to discuss immunization financing. Other interactive sessions were held with journalists and social media influencers as the tweet-a-thon continued till the end of the week. The event was generally a success as the hashtags trended strongly on Twitter.
African Vaccination Week is an annual regional initiative coordinated by the WHO African Regional Office (AFRO) and implemented by countries within the region. The ultimate goal of AVW is to strengthen immunization programs in the African region by increasing awareness on the right of every individual–particularly every child and woman–to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. The objectives for this year’s AVW were to increase stakeholder awareness towards the value and benefits of immunization; promote and maintain immunization as a priority for decision-makers; advocate for financial and material resources for immunization; increase demand and utilization of immunization services; and improve access for high risk-populations and hard-to-reach areas in the region.