NOA Calls for VCMs Support on VACCINE UPTAKE, Charges Stakeholders to Take Responsibility

The Abia State director of national orientation agency NOA, Dr Ngozi Okechukwu is appealing to community leaders especially traditional rulers and community governance structure to assist government to strengthen the job of volunteers community mobilizers, VCMs.

Dr Okechukwu made the appeal while speaking at the maiden stakeholders/sensitization meeting involving traditional rulers and members of community governance structure on Covid 19, prevention and vaccine uptake held at Umunneochi local government headquarters.

Dr Okechukwu 

According to Dr Ngozi Okechukwu, the event tagged “STRENGTHENING OF VCMS FOR INFORMATION SERVICE” is a call for all traditional rulers and members of community governance structure to strengthen the service delivery as it concerns ANC ATTENDANCE AND COVID-19 PREVENTION AND VACCINE UPTAKE, which demands that every community leader must take responsibility for the protection of all, while the idea is for VCMs to bring about change in the covid 19 response using Jehova witness strategy to engage women one on one. 
She added that the program is driven by NOA, including other partners and sponsored UNICEF who care for the welfare of women and children.
Dr Okechukwu noted that because VCMs are natural leaders, they are influential forces of communication and are Honourable people with strong networks in the community. She posited that the idea is to use the VCM to bring about change in the covid 19 response and vaccine administration, which at this context, UNICEF proposed the establishment and strengthening of the VCM initiative as an information service delivery in 33 autonomous communities in Umunneochi LGA.
Her words, “Your task is a simple one- to all community Leaders, OICs of health facilities here present. She also pointed out that as a critical stakeholder and a gateway to their communities, the leaders are tasked with duty of identifying a set of volunteers, not necessarily within the forum , but after consultations in the community. If the VCMs are creatively mobilized and deployed, there is a high probability of improving the COVID-19 prevention knowledge base and reducing vaccine hesitancy.   Hence, after the orientation, followed the training of the VCMs and the appraisals.
Abia State NOA director said, as an agency that interfaces with the grass root, they have painstakingly observed that vaccine hesitancy is high due to rumors, misinformation and fake need in the social media. Today, I call on all to ” TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PROTECTION OF ALL” you all must ensure and uptake in routine immunization RI, antenatal care, ANC attendance and other essential family practice. I urge everyone participant to key in to today’s message and take personal responsibility to make a difference.
Declaring the event open, the chairman of Umunneochi local government area, Chief Ifeanyi Madu represented by his deputy, Jubilee Ezechikamnario and the head of service of Umunneochi local government area, Chief Monday Ugorji described the initiative as a welcome development and promised to ensure that the program records huge success in Umunneochi. 

Chief Ugorji

State health educator, Mrs Meg Onwu listed the criteria of the volunteers community mobilizers to include someone who have something meaningful doing, must reside within his or her community, must be a social crusader and must be available. She also disclosed that it is the job of volunteer community mobilizer to encourage pregnant women to go for antenatal services, ensure the health centres around their community is functioning, following up new born babies for immunization, among others.
Assistant epidemiologist in Abia State, Abia state, Mr Charles Ibeleme advised people to ignore all the misinformation and rumours associated with covid 19 and the vaccine, but protect themselves by getting vaccinated.
Some of the participants including Ochi 1 of Isuochi, Eze G.I Ezekwesiri, Eze Patrick Okafor, the traditional ruler of Aro-ikpa, Eze Ernest Onwuka and the president general of Obinaolu community sai they are impressed with the right information they received and promised to mobilize their people to take the vaccine. They added to be crusaders of the ceremony and appealed that vaccine workers extend their services to hinter lands.

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