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Children take over vaccination campaign

The next message you get about vaccination would probably have been crafted by a secondary school student. On dozens of students selected from 20 schools…

The next message you get about vaccination would probably have been crafted by a secondary school student. On dozens of students selected from 20 schools in the FCT for their creativity went into competition—to draw, paint or write around the theme "Value of vaccine and immunisation financing."

It is part of a global campaign by the World Health Organisation for African Vaccination Week.

"There is untapped opportunity with young children," said Shola Dele-Olowu of Direct Consulting and Logistics, which consults for the International Vaccine Access Centre.

"A lot of kids are creative in this country and we don’t know what they can do.

If you have young people talking about the value of vaccine, that’s another group of voices. 

Who better than children to talk about the need for immunization?"

Nigeria’s bill for routine immunisation is expected to top $600 million by next year.

That’s the bill for immunizing a cohort of some 7 million children born every year, with the number expected to reach 10m by 2020, according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

The challenges with getting more parents to immunise their children and getting the government to ensure vaccines remain free is the core of the Vaccination Week competition.

"We feel that children coming together to draw, paint, write, come up with poems and articles that speak to the value of vaccine and immunisation financing in Nigeria will turn powerful advocacy material to government and the public to increase demand for vaccine and vaccine financing in Nigeria," said Obinna Ebirim, senior technical adviser for Women Advocates for Vaccine Access.

Creations from the students is "not changing advocacy but an additional strategy to carry on the work of advocacy," said Adamu Nuhu, director of advocacy and communication at NPHCDA.

"Once they are captured at a very early age and understand the value of vaccines, they become advocates themselves to ensure their younger ones are adequately protected through vaccination.

"When they become parents, they know already the value of vaccines—it is inculcated into their culture—and therefore they need not to be cajoled into having their children vaccinated." The creations are whittled down to 12 and uploaded on the net where voters vote all entries down to three final winners.

But all participants get a consolation prize. "Children are the ones who get vaccinated. It is important we get them involved so they too have a voice and a say and express themselves in this whole issue of vaccination," said curator and art consultant Lilian Pilaku.


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