By Charly Agwam – Bauchi
Residents of Kururu, a Hard-To-Reach (HTR) settlement in Ningi local government area of Bauchi state have made U-turn on their stance on immunization after many years of resistance.
The residents told Vanguard yesterday that they changed their position on accepting immunization after EU-UNICEF medical team visited their community to provide free treatment for women and under-5 children.
They said it was easy to understand the importance of immunization because the EU-UNICEF medical outreach team members were familiar faces they have known for some time.
One of the residents, Hajiyya Lauratu said she was grateful for the awareness, noting that many children in the settlement were sickly and women had died before, during and after childbirth, apparently due to lack of immunization.
“Before this project team arrived, we had the culture of rejecting immunization services, antenatal care and even hospital delivery because of some myths we heard about. We had the wrong perception of these things, to the extent that we threw stones at medical service providers and chased them away.
“But all that changed when our brothers and sisters cleared the air on those myths we had. Since the project started, we have been healthier than ever before. Immunization has now been fully accepted, malnutrition has been reduced and the impact of antenatal care is improving the chances of our mothers to bear healthy children. We are grateful,” she said.
Other residents who spoke to Vanguard underscored the benefits that the EU-UNICEF projects have brought to their community.
The team lead of the Ningi local government area EU-UNICEF Volunteer Community Oriented Resource Persons (CORPs), Sani Ishyaku noted that aside the immunization and other medical services his team provides, there’s a Social Protection Programme available in 3 LGAs, Katagum, Bauchi and Misau where pregnant women are paid for attending Ante Natal Care (ANC) and giving birth at the hospital.
Findings by Vanguard corroborated Isyaku’s claim that apart from immunization and other medical services they provide, there’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), a Social Protection Programme (SPP) in 3 LGAs (Bauchi, Katagum and Misau) where a pregnant woman is enrolled into ANC and given transport fare of N1,000 in each of her recommended 4 ANC visits; N4,000 when she delivers in the health facility and child receives first immunization vaccines; and N1,000 in each of the next 4 immunization schedules for the child which amounts to a total of N12,000 for one woman from pregnancy stage, through delivery to fully immunized stage of the infant.
This strategy, Vanguard learned, was designed to bridge the gap of financial barriers hindering pregnant women in remote communities from attending ANC; delivering in the hospital or fully immunizing their children against preventable diseases.