In Ibadan, Nigeria, community leaders have stepped in and stepped up to mobilise nursing mothers to take their children in for routine immunisation.

“I move from house-to-house to educate these mothers on the need to vaccinate their children. As Chairman of the Ward Development Committee, I also instructed all leaders in the 12 wards to do the same,” says Alhaji Abimbola Odelade, also known as Baba General.

Alhaji Abimbola Odelade, Ward Development Committee Chairman, Ibadan, Nigeria.
Alhaji Abimbola Odelade, Ward Development Committee Chairman, Ibadan, Nigeria.
Photo Credit: Ijeoma Ukazu

He goes on to say, “This initiative I created is to mobilise women on routine immunisation of their children against childhood killer diseases. I am doing this because of the love I have for the community. Members of my community know that I use my money, time and energy to work for them. As Chairman, I made it compulsory for every woman after delivery to take her child to the nearest health centre for immunisation."

“When we move from house to house, at each stop, we calculate the number of persons in the house. We sensitise them on the importance of immunisation as well as advise them to go to the health centre at Oke-Adu, which is open for immunisation every Tuesday and Thursday.”

Baba General explains that he arms these breastfeeding mothers with adequate information on the importance of the date on their child’s vaccination card and even if they must travel within the week of their immunisation and therefore miss the date, they should go to the health centre for immunisation as soon as they can.

“With the constant awareness, a large proportion of women in the community have a better understanding and know the value of vaccination as well as being conscious of the date on their child's vaccination card,” says Odelade.

For Odelade, “these children are ours. Once they are fully vaccinated, they will have immunity against any childhood killer diseases. The mother and father of the child will have time to concentrate on their job and properly use their earnings to foot their children’s education rather than on hospital bills. We made it a task to the community that their health is our health. What affects them, affects us.

“With the last review of immunisation data, Ibadan North East was given a thumbs up. Within two months of the house-to-house mobilisation, the changes were massive. We were formerly in the danger zone with low immunisation records of children. Since the attainment of good immunisation status, we will never relent; we still educate our people in the community.”

Alhaji Busari Maminu, Chairman of one of Ibadan’s wards, says, “Immunisation in Oke-Adu has 85% coverage. Hitherto, it was bad. The community was on red alert.”

Alhaji Busari Maminu, Ward Chairman, Ibadan, Nigeria. Photo Credit: Ijeoma Ukazu
Alhaji Busari Maminu, Ward Chairman, Ibadan, Nigeria.
Photo Credit: Ijeoma Ukazu

“When we move from house to house, at each stop, we calculate the number of persons in the house. We sensitise them on the importance of immunisation as well as advise them to go to the health centre at Oke-Adu, which is open for immunisation every Tuesday and Thursday.”

Maminu further explains, “Also, each time we go to a house and don’t meet members of the household, we leave and come back. Nevertheless, once we meet members of the household, we educate them and if there is a nursing mother there, they follow our instructions. We do not force them. We talk with them in a polite and convincing manner that spurs them to take their child for immunisation.”

A nursing mother in the community, Adelekan Caroline, also known as Mama Yard, says the house-to-house mobilisation helped her immunise her child early against childhood killer diseases.

Mrs Adelekan Caroline
Mrs Adelekan Caroline, a mother who benefited from the house-to-house mobilisation.
Photo Credit: Ijeoma Ukazu

“I usually don’t go to the health centre after BCG vaccination [which children receive at birth]. When our community leader came to me to tell me about the importance of routine immunisation, I went back to that health centre and the matron told me that children who are not immunised are a danger to others. I quickly had my child vaccinated.

“I spend less now on hospital bills because my children are fully immunised. Even with COVID-19, women in my community still bring their babies out for routine immunisation.”

TOPICS: COVID-19Country stories

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