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WHO supports Government to immunize ‘Almajiri’ Children in Northwest Nigeria

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In an effort to reach and vaccinate every eligible child in Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the Government to vaccinate as many Almajiri children in the country as possible.

As part of the demand creation strategies, Almajiri vaccination is the deliberate targeting of eligible children in Almajiri schools with vaccines.

Found predominantly in North-Western Nigeria, Almajiri children are “migrant students” sent from their state of origin to another, to learn Islamic education. However, there have been challenges of non-compliance from some Mallams (Hausa word for ‘teachers’ or ‘caregiver’) of Quranic schools.

“Unfortunately, some Mallams have a religious belief that immunization is not necessary”, says the Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Health Dr Habibu Yelwa during August 2019 NIPDs (fIPV+bOPV campaign) official flag off.

He added that “some religious doctrines forbid their sick members from going to the hospital. In addition, ignorance and illiteracy towards the true objective of immunization has also served as an impediment to immunization (both routine and SIA) among children in Almajiri Schools. Furthermore, there are Almajiris who have been wrongly educated by their Mallams against immunization making them run away from vaccine administrators. We are working hard to change this narrative,” Dr Yelwa disclosed.

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In view of the situation in the North West, in Katsina state, the Government has increased sensitization of community groups including women, traditional birth attendants, community leaders, youths, religious leaders, and Quranic/Islamic teachers. Furthermore, immunization has been preached and promoted in Islamic schools, health camps have been established in Islamic communities, health talks on the importance of immunization during RI sessions have been organized, including compound and taskforce meetings and special outreach sessions for underserved communities including Almajiris.

In addition, government has leveraged on the use of special attractive pluses such as soap and community based micro planning for all target age groups as effective strategies to reach the Almajiri population.

High numbers of Almajiri’s vaccinated

In 2018, a total number of 42 204 Almajiris were vaccinated across 14 Local Government Areas, (LGA’s) in Zamfara state. Meanwhile, in January 2019, total of 52 337 Almajiris were vaccinated across the same 14 LGA’s, while in April 2019, 55 807 Almajiris were vaccinated

In Katsina state a total of 21 182 Almajiris were immunized in January 2019, 33 870 in March, 31,984 in May and 5 560 July. This was done in their respective Quranic schools with the approval of the Mallams.

Katsina State LGA Health Educator, Mr Maina Tukur stated, “in the ongoing September/October 2019 Yellow fever campaign, about 5,342 children have been immunized as at day six and this has helped boost the immunity of a lot of the children”.

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Kebbi State also has a number of 13 321 Almajiri vaccinated in 2018 and 13 108 in 2019 despite the challenge of 90% of the Almajiris being over 5 years of age.

During July 2019 NIPDs a total of one hundred and seventy-one (171) eligible Almajiri were vaccinated in Jigawa state with polio vaccine and quite a number of this cohorts group were reached at their Islamic schools.

Efforts to reach the Almajiri Population

In collaboration with the Zamfara State Government, WHO has intensified efforts in reaching Almajiris particularly through community engagement and dialogue with some Quranic Mallams, Sultans, Emirs and key religious focal persons.

“Advocacy visits have been organized at Quranic schools through the religious focal persons of the Local Government Areas (LGA), outlining the Quranic schools in settlements by ward focal persons.”

Furthermore, team supervisors, traditional and religious leaders, detail daily implementation plans (dip) for special teams to cover the identified areas were developed including target population and vaccine required, and also the use of incentives like sweets, soaps, detergents and milk as a plus to children after vaccination.

Support for the expanded programme on immunization in Nigeria through WHO is made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Centre for Disease Control, Department for International Development (DFID – UK), European Union, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Government of Germany through KfW Bank, Global Affairs Canada, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Rotary International and the World Bank.

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Health

COVID-19: Lagos health commissioner, Abayomi tests positive

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The Lagos State Commissioner for Health,  Prof. Akin Abayomi, has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Gbenga Omotoso, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, disclosed this in  a statement issued on Monday.

The statement also added that Abayomi had close contact with persons feeling unwell who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Subsequent to close contact with persons feeling unwell and testing positive for the COVID-19 infection, the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has tested positive for the virus.

“Professor Abayomi became aware of his status following the required testing protocol of contact tracing procedures,” the statement partly read.

The commissioner who had no symptoms of the virus, is adhering to the protocol of home-based strategy in the state.

While embarking on self-isolation for the next 14 days, he will still continue to discharge his duties both as the Deputy Incident Commander of the Incident Command System for COVID-19 and as the Commissioner for Health.

Meanwhile, members of the State Executive Council wish him a speedy recovery during the period.

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Health

COVID-19: Imo govt. launches innovative mobile health insurance with support from WHO

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The Governor of Imo State, Mr. Hope Uzodinma last Wednesday launched the innovative Mobile Health Insurance Programme in Owerri.

This mobile health insurance initiative has been designed with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) to achieve seamless coverage of the over 96% population in the informal sector of the State on health insurance while reducing the existing out-of-pocket expenditure of 92%. The mobile platforms in addition, provide automated opportunities for philanthropists to graciously adopt the poor and vulnerable on health insurance.

In his remarks, the  Governor appreciated the leadership role of WHO in the health sector of the state and globally especially in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. He added that the state government depends strongly on the genuine and constructive partnership of the World Health Organization towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Governor Uzodinma added that WHO supported the state, with the design and flag-off of the Health Insurance Scheme, which now culminates in the launch of the use of mobile phone technology to pay for and access Health Insurance, the first of its kind in Africa towards   ensuring that people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.

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He restated his commitment to repositioning the entire Health Sector in the State, while requesting WHOs renewed partnership in “PHC revitalization, full implementation of the State Health Insurance scheme to provide access to essential Healthcare to Imo citizens at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of care, revamping of our Health Security, Emergency preparedness and response, and overhaul of the drug revolving scheme to eliminate the issue of fake or substandard drugs in our hospitals.”

Speaking at the event, the WHO Nigeria Representative,  Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo appreciated the government of Imo State for placing the health of her people high on overall agenda of government. While recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the vulnerabilities of the global health systems, he pledged WHO’s continuous support within the 13 General Program of work and the State Health Strategic Development Plan.

Dr Mulmbo said that WHO recognizes the peculiar needs of each population from others and thus, makes deliberate efforts to fashion out the health system that works for them based on their needs.

He appreciated the level of political commitment to health in the State and expressed confidence that if sustained, the State and WHO will together promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.

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WHO already supported the State with core health financing analytics with development and printing of the State Health Financing Policy and Strategy, operational guidelines of the State Health Insurance Scheme key operational documents for the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, as well as laptop computers, some of which were presented during the event.

The high point of the event was the conferment of the title of “Oche Ndu 1 (protector and preserver of life) of Imo State” on Dr. Kazadi on behalf of WHO, by the Chairman of Imo State Traditional Rulers, in recognition of all the lives that have been saved through the humanitarian work done by WHO in the State.

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Oyo govt, HACEY Health Initiative set to end female genital mutilation

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Oyo State Government in conjunction with HACEY Health Initiative on Thursday launched a campaign train tagged ” Stop Cut Project ” a project targeted at achieving zero record of female genital mutilation in the state within the next three years.

Oyo State Commissioner for health, Dr. Bashir Bello, while delivering his address at a stakeholders’ roundtable organized by HACEY Health initiative in respect of the Stop Cut Project, held at the Ministry of Health, Secretariat, Ibadan, said it was high time for the public to put aside cultural believes on female organ mutilation considering its effects on victims.

Dr. Bello, maintained that the society needed to be familiar with the consequences of the practice, hence, the government would intensify efforts in educating the populace on hazards attributed to the act.

He attributed the existence of this harmful practice in the society to inability of victims to report the perpetrators to the appropriate quarters for necessary actions, saying that the habit did not enable the perpetrators to pay the price for their actions.

He assured the convener of the project, HACEY health initiative of government support towards realization of set goals.

In his remarks, the Project Director, HACEY Health Initiative , Isiaiah Owolabi, said HACEY was determined to create a network of active people willing to end female genital mutilation in this era.

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Owalabi noted that key stakeholders would be engaged continually and build alliance for the purpose of eradicating the practices especially in core rural areas of the state.

“Our motive is to increase public awareness on female genital mutilation by dishing out risks associated to the practice to the public.

” The period of our intervention is three years, we are doing this in three states, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo. We believe at the end of this arrangement; we will achieve zero record of female genital mutilation in the state.

“We are relying on ministry of health and other relevant ministries and agencies in achieving this.

Similarly, the Oyo State Female Genital Multination Coordinator, Mrs. Baliqis Olawoyin, described the FGM as harmful practice, saying that the havocs emanated from it are usually irreversible.

Mrs. Oluwakemi also noted that the practice is regarded as violation of girls and women rights.
she thereafter called on parents to desist from encouraging or mandating their children to engage in mutilation of female organ for the act to become a thing of the past in Oyo state.

Also speaking, Oyo State Coordinator, National Orientation Agency, Mrs. Dolapo Dosumu, represented by Mr. Moshood Olaleye, said that there is need for government and Non-governmental organisations to sustain the campaign and ensure that they end Female genital Mutilation in Oyo State.

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“I urged all other relevant stakeholders to be actively involved in campaign and effective synergy and networking established for impact”

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