Abuja, 12 March, 2021 – Because the second wave of COVID-19 affects the world neatly being and financial community, the World Well being Group (WHO) is supporting government to engage strategic stakeholders as portion of concerted efforts to reverse the pattern of the pandemic. This engagement builds on the teachings learned from the serious function performed by venerable and non secular leaders in the success of a polio-free location in Nigeria.
“What we did at some point soon of the polio eradication initiative is an affidavit of our skill to mobilize, sensitize and persuade our communities in toughen of any public neatly being interventions in Nigeria,” Alhaji Idris Musa. Giwa community chief in Abuja,
Currently, with WHO’s toughen, government engaged 7,350 venerable and non secular leaders all the scheme in which by scheme of 11 precedence states to end community-essentially essentially based interventions along side sensitization for voluntary testing, survivors’ declaration of location at some point soon of heroes’ campaign, voluntary declaration of contacts by confirmed conditions and adherence to preventive measures.
“I truly derive for my portion taken portion in such engagements with venerable rulers, non secular leaders, community leaders and political leaders to relief of us to turnout and decrease hesitancy. I imagine that after the vaccine roll out starts and the publicity is sustained, hesitancy will gradually decrease and of us will voluntarily turn up for it”, Dr Osagie Ehanire stated.
Leveraging the engagement of venerable leaders for polio eradication
Since 2009, the foremost function performed by venerable leaders in Northern Nigeria under the auspices of Northern Faded Leaders Committee for Polio and Main Well being Care (NTLC) remains one of the indispensable tip strategic partnerships that saw the end of polio in Nigeria. Per Professor Oyewale Tomori, Chairman, Knowledgeable Review Committee on Polio Eradication in Nigeria, neglecting such highly effective partners inner the communities would derive potentially been the greatest mistake in the polio eradication initiative.
“We quickly figured out that even with plump government toughen, we would now now not reach certain communities without participating venerable leaders,” Professor Tomori stated. “As quickly as we introduced them on board with wait on from NGOs and a few politicians, standard resistance to the vaccination campaigns disappeared.”
His advice to world neatly being partners: “Win the local community to derive the programme, express to them that this is for you. Issue over with them, assign a question to them what they need, and work around giving it to them.”
Affect of venerable leaders’ engagement on COVID-19 response
In Kwara dispute, the venerable leaders’ engagement resulted in an elevate in folks presenting for COVID-19 testing. “Presently after our sensitization of venerable leaders in Kwara dispute at some point soon of epidemiological week 46 in 2020, testing increased from zero to 875 by week 52,” stated WHO Articulate Coordinator, Mr Mustapha Katibi. “Thus far this one year, weekly tests derive remained increased than 300 samples, thanks to the ongoing sensitization efforts in the communities by community and non secular leaders” added Mustapha.
In Sokoto, WHO Articulate coordinator, Dr Habibu Yahya reaffirmed that the rise in community testing changed into connected to the sensitization and engagement of the venerable and non secular leaders led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar. “For the reason that engagement of the venerable management of Sokoto under the Sultan, our community testing increased from decrease than 100 as of September 2020 to over 200 in the fresh month,” stated Dr Habibu.
His Royal Highness (HRH), Esau Mamman a venerable chief in Bassa Local Executive Space (LGA) of Plateau Articulate counseled WHO for supporting government to engage venerable leaders as a holistic manner. He changed into confident that these efforts would address the challenges of false affect, denial of COVID-19 disease, low threat notion, and stigmatization in the communities, all of which hugely affect COVID-19 prevention and put watch over.
WHO Country Handbook/Head of Mission, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, is optimistic that participating the venerable and non secular institutions will give a pick to community acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine. “As Nigeria introduces COVID-19 vaccine amidst low threat notion, myths and doubts about the actuality of the disease among the many populace, the engagement of venerable leaders will likely be crucial to address these among diverse groundless impressions.
Dr Chima Onuekwue; Email: onuekwec [at] who.int; Tel: +234 803 535 4876