The Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) in partnership with the wife of Kebbi State governor, Her Excellency Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, organized a community advocacy event for the wives of local government area (LGA) chairmen on August 11, 2017 at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Birnin-Kebbi.
The event titled, ‘Creating demand for vaccines at the grassroots’ sought to raise awareness among the wives of the LGA chairmen on the importance and benefits of immunization for the children in the State. The event was aimed at getting the wives of LGA chairmen to become more proactive and involved in influencing the women in their constituencies to utilize immunization services for better health outcomes of the women and children. In addition, the wives were also encouraged to work with their husbands to ensure proper and adequate delivery of immunization services at their local health facilities (HF).
In her opening remarks, WAVA Convener, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi enlightened the audience on the latest National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS)/Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) immunization coverage report for 2016. She explained that immunization coverage in Kebbi State was low at 11% and thus required prompt attention in beefing up the coverage levels. She also explained that low immunization coverage was observed in the northern states, among women who were less educated, and in areas of poverty. She therefore encouraged all participants, especially the wives of LGA chairmen, to come together and ensure that vaccines were being delivered right down to the local government primary healthcare centres (PHCs) in rural areas and communities where standards of living were poor. She said this was to ensure that no child would be left out in spite of their socio-economic or educational status.
The special guest of the occasion and WAVA champion, Her Excellency Dr. Zainab Bagudu gave a rousing speech in which she encouraged the wives of the LGA chairmen to take action in their constituencies to improve immunization uptake and delivery. She buoyed the women to visit their local health facilities and ensure that immunization services including the cold store for maintaining the vaccines were optimally running. As a way to provide incentives for the communities to immunize their children, Dr. Bagudu speaking in both English and Hausa, encouraged the women to organize birthday parties for children who had completed their immunization schedule.
The event was highly interactive as there were several question and answer sessions involving the participants. The event also featured song performances and a drama presentation with messages on the benefits of immunization, much to the cheer and delight of the audience.
Lectures were presented in Hausa on:
- The overview of immunization in Kebbi State
- Key messages on immunization including the 5 visits to complete the routine immunization schedule
- What advocacy meant and the appropriate advocacy tools to utilize
- How to strengthening organizational brand through the use of social media, and
- How to mainstream routine immunization activities into stakeholders’ existing programmes
The advocacy event culminated in the development of a work plan for the wives of LGA chairmen to implement within the timeline from August to December 2017.
Numbering over 100 participants, the event brought together immunization officers; women coordinators and ward counsellors; traditional and religious leaders; officials from State Ministries including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Sports and Development, and Ministry of Justice; Medicaid Cancer Foundation (MCF), National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS), civil society organizations (CSOs), the State Social Mobilizing Committee, staff of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, photographers, media personnel and members of the local community.