Health experts have urged the federal government and civil society organisations to always involve local artisans and community members in health campaigns so as to get maximum results.
Speaking at a one-day high-level strategic meeting on Routine Immunisation in Abuja on Thursday, a public health expert, Paul Bassi said it is important for CSOs and governments to recognise the influence of local artisans.
The meeting was organised by the development Research and Projects Center (dRPC) in conjunction with the National Association of Community Health Practitioners of Nigeria (NACHPN), to help strengthen the accountability framework for routine immunisation service delivery at national and state levels.
Mr Bassi, a professor of public health, Bingham University and Director, Child Health and Special Duties JSI said the inclusion of barbers in the immunisation process helped improve immunisation coverage in Bauchi State for instance.
He said his organisation was able to get cooperation from barbers in Bauchi State, which assisted in identifying newborns for vaccine coverage.
He said they had been having problems identifying newborns, but the barbers who were not considered to be CSOs ”came in to save the day.”
He said, most of the children were not born in the health facilities so the barbers helped identify the newborns in their various houses.
He said the barbers were able to achieve this easily because they are the ones that do circumcise the children, ”cut their hairs and also do tribal markings”.
He noted that the outcome was tremendous as it helped to cover a lot of grounds in routine immunisation in the state.
Mr Bassi called on CSOs to factor in local community-based professionals in their advocacy ”and also listen to them and not always rely on the knowledge of foreign partners or donors to solve immunisation and other health issues”.
He also urged them to do more in the implementation stage of routine immunisation ”as this will help reduce the wastage of vaccines at the community level”.
“What I am advocating is to allow CSOs to be at every level across the states and levels of implementation,” he explained.
In her welcome address, the Executive Director, dRPC. Judith-Ann Walker, called for accountability in routine immunisation.
She said at present, there is a huge gap in routine immunisation in the country.
She stated that the process will be needing $3.6 billion in the next ten years, while the federal government will be contributing $2 billion.