WAVA, in collaboration with the wife of Imo State governor, Her Excellency (HE) Dr. Nkechi Rochas Okorocha, hosted a dinner for the wife of the President of Nigeria and wives of governors, on advocacy for increased immunization funding, service demand and uptake.
The dinner which took place on August 2, 2017 at the private residence of the Imo State governor in Owerri, was timely as it happened during the annually celebrated ‘August Meeting’ gathering themed: ‘Women: Building bridges of friendship across the Niger.’
The objectives of the meeting were to:
- Sensitize the wives of policy makers on immunization, including challenges in programme implementation in their States
- Present a partnership framework to raise political will for immunization financing, coverage and equity
- Inspire them to take up the cause of ensuring vaccine access for every woman and child
Host of the dinner, HE Dr. Okorocha, gave a welcome address and introduced the WAVA delegation comprising WAVA national convener, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi; acting director of the Department of Advocacy and Communication at the National Primary Healthcare Development Centre (NPHCDA), Dr Eugene Ivase; and WAVA Senior Technical Advisor, Dr. Obinna Ebirim.
In his opening remark, Dr. Ivase enlightened the wives of governors on the value of vaccines, as well as informed them on the poor immunization coverage rates, which gave rise to a high number of unimmunized children in Nigeria. He also spoke about efforts by NPHCDA to increase coverage through the setting up of a National Emergency Routine Immunization Coordination Centre (NERICC) and the implementation of the Community Health Influencers Promoters and Services (CHIPS) program.
Dr. Ivase then called on the wives of governors to become champions of immunization in their States by ensuring that every woman and child have access to immunization services and that they understand its importance by demanding these services. He also beckoned on the wives to influence the governors to prioritize primary health care and immunization, to pay health workers timely, and to provide their counterpart funding for immunization programs within their States. Dr. Ivase finally assured the wives of NPHCDA’s readiness to work with them in improving immunization services in the country.
Dr. Wonodi in buttressing, acknowledged the laudable efforts carried out by the wives through their various pet projects. She further challenged them to sensitize and engage the wives of local government chairmen in enhancing public demand for immunization. Dr. Wonodi also stated that WAVA offered the wives of governors a veritable platform for collaboration in implementing these advocacy activities and in becoming vaccine champions. She graciously announced HE Dr. Zainab Bagudu, wife of Kebbi State governor; HE Hajiya Hadiza Abubakar, wife of Bauchi State governor; and HE Mrs. Olufunsho Amosun, wife of Ogun State governor, who were already WAVA vaccine champions, and made honourable mention of Dr Bagudu’s effort to create demand for immunization in Kebbi State.
The wives of governors were presented with WAVA advocacy toolkits containing a factsheet on immunization financing, a WAVA briefer of activities carried out, and FAQs on immunization. The event was intended to improve their knowledge of the Nigeria immunization program and its challenges, offer an opportunity of partnership with WAVA through political will for immunization financing, coverage and equity; and signal commitment to incorporate advocacy for immunization through their State pet projects.