Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mobilising media on routine immunization

Health News: Bhopal, July 29 (IBNS) Somati, is an anganwadi worker working at anganwadi centre (child care centre) loacted at Sarrai village, 30 kilometres 'north off Jabalpur town' in Madhya Pradesh, central part of India. This Tuesday she along with Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) and ASHA (accredited social health activists) were at the centre attending to rush of mothers who had come with their infants and little kids for vaccination.

As soon as one enters the centre, one could see vaccine vials on the molds of ice packs on the 'only table covered by white sheet' at the centre and on the other side mothers carrying vaccination cards in their hands and patiently waiting for their turn.

Few mothers had neatly wrapped vaccination cards of their children in a newspaper, while some had it in plastic bag.

But all of them had it.

Last Tuesday of every month, this centre functions as immunization centre for the village. And today was the vaccination day; all children whose vaccinations were due are being vaccinated by ANM. Anganwadi worker and ASHA mobilised parents to come to the centre and also attend to mothers and give them the needed iron tablets.

This Tuesday was a special one.

They had visitors.

The visitors were media representatives from Jabalpur, and Delhi. Mothers and children were being photographed, interviewed and were giving 'radio bytes'! It was not only this but more.

Media representatives were informally interacting with community representatives and service providers, trying to understand from them how they work, what are their challenges, do all parents bring their children, if not how do they convince them? What do they do to make sure that vaccine remains potent even when the centre does not have electricity etc.

Some of the villagers knew names of few newspapers, which they had read but some they had not even heard.

But today all of them were in the village and had come from Delhi and Jabalpur to see their work.

This is part of media partnership programme between UNICEF, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Government of Madhya Pradesh to bring media on to its fold to help increase media discourse on routine immunisation.

'Mobilising media on this issue will help create a push on generating demand by communities and push within the system for vaccination of children.

This is important as ´immunization saves lives´ and important in state which has highest infant mortality rates and a low routine immunisation level' shares Dr Tania Goldner, Chief, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh.

"We need to reach out to each and every child," she further adds.

42.9 % children of Madhya Pradesh are full vaccinated in Madhya Pradesh as per coverage evaluation survey done in the year 2009 by UNICEF.

As a part of this media partnership programme an interactive and educative video conference was held simultaneously at Delhi, Bhopal and Jabalpur between media, officials of health department of Government of India and Government of Madhya Pradesh, UNICEF and IGNOU in June this year.

Preceding this media persons were taken to field in Bhopal in June and later in Jabalpur.

"The idea was to see the immunisation in the field, how vaccines are stored, transported, what is cold chain, how vaccine vial monitor helps to identify potency of vaccine in field, share the micro planning process, with them," says Dr Gagan Gupta, Health Specialist with UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh.

He, along with Government of Madhya Pradesh health officials, walked media teams through the entire process of vaccine storage, micro planning process, to its distribution to community health centre, and to end point where children were being vaccinated at the health centre.

"Things are changing, people are getting aware of the immunization, but we need to expand our outreach and overcome barriers like low literacy levels, myths and superstitions. Hence need to reach out with information become more important and it is here where media and this partnership can play an important role," Dr J.L. Mishra, Joint Director Health, Jabalpur Division.

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