The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), has tied up with UNICEF to educate grassroots level media professionals on routine immunization. IGNOU will provide its robust video-conferencing facilities to reach out to national, state and district media in strategic and interactive workshops on routine immunization. The initiative was inaugurated simultaneously in Delhi, Bhopal and Jabalpur using the video-conferencing studios of IGNOU.
National media from IGNOU’s Gyan Darshan Delhi studio connected with over 80 state and district level media gathered at its Bhopal and Jabalpur centers. Two additional media workshops are planned from June 2011 to February 2012, building a core network of media reporting on routine immunization. These will culminate in a national level congregation later this year.
“In partnership with UNICEF, IGNOU is committed to creating awareness among journalists so they can encourage and inform the public on important issues such as immunization and other developmental priorities”, said Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU.
Speaking at the launch, David McLoughlin, Deputy Representative, UNICEF India, expressed his appreciation for the partnership between UNICEF and IGNOU and said that it would help improve the penetration of the routine immunization programme in the most remote areas through an effective network of informed journalists. “Through this partnership, we hope to ensure that all children can enjoy a healthy life, no matter what their socio-economic background,” he said. While welcoming the guests, Professor Shambhu Nath Singh, Director, School of Journalism & New Media Studies (SOJNMS), IGNOU, said that this effort involves an innovative use of technology to train grassroots journalists in India.
Sharing data with media, Dr. N.K Dhamija, Assistant Commissioner Immunization, Ministry of Family & Health Welfare, pointed out,"Besides making people aware of the immunization schedule and benefits of the vaccination, media can also inform people about cold chain and its role in effective immunisation," Dr. Dhamija added. He also informed that Government of India, besides providing vaccination against six vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) Universal ( Routine ) Immunisation Programme, has added vaccination against Hepatitis-B across the country and Second Dose of Measles Vaccine under Universal Immunsiation Programme.
During the launch, Shravan Garg, Group Editor, Dainik Bhaskar urged the journalists present to focus on child deaths caused by the lack of vaccination. He suggested that completed immunization cards should be made compulsory for admission in schools, for every child.
At the end of the launch event in Delhi, UNICEF’s booklet on “Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity” was released by David McLoughlin, Deputy Representative, UNICEF India. Angela Walker, Chief of Advocacy & Partnerships, UNICEF India, explained how the booklet tells the stories of empowered rural and urban adolescents making a big difference in their own communities.