In its efforts to strengthen advocacy for sustainable immunization financing in the country, the Women Advocates for Vaccines Access (WAVA) conferred the honour of Vaccine Champions to eight notable dignitaries on Tuesday December 13, 2016 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja. Organized by Direct Consulting and Logistics (DCL) Nigeria, and with technical support from the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), the event was well attended by stakeholders in the immunization sector as well as member civil society organizations under WAVA.
Chaired by the Royal Father of the day, His Royal Highness (HRH), Dr. Haliru Yahaya, the Emir of Shonga, Kwara State, the event was filled with fanfare, as the newly inaugurated champions pledged commitment to the cause of equitable vaccine access for all Nigerians, and especially for the growing child population in the country. HRH stated: ‘We must ensure all Nigerian children are fully immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.’
Country Program Director for IVAC, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi who gave the presentation on WAVA and its Champions stated the importance of advocacy for vaccines. She said, ‘We have an urgent need to speak out and take action.’ She also outlined the expectations of the champions which included lending their voice to advancing increased vaccines funding; advocating for a budget line for vaccines at the state level, and thus, ensuring the timely release of the funds for outreach services; advocating that states make resources readily available as needed, and providing advisory support to WAVA’s activities. The occasion was also used to launch a small grants program for equitable vaccine access through advocacy.
The list of honourees for the investiture include a high-powered assemble of influential Nigerians, namely: Mrs. Toyin Saraki, wife of Senate President; Dr. Muhammed Ali Pate, former Nigerian Minister of State for Health; Hon. Muhammed Usman, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Health Services, Federal House of Representatives at the National Assembly; Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, wife of Kebbi State governor; Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, wife of Ogun State governor; Hajiya Hadiza Muhammed Abubakar, wife of Bauchi State governor, Mrs. Martha Ebele Yough, Head of Stations, WazobiaCoolInfo; and Chief (Mrs.) Folasade Tinubu-Ojo, Iyaloja-General of Nigeria and President of the Market Women and Men Association of Nigeria.
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