The first of a series of round-table dialogues to support the Polio Eradication Initiative in Nigeria held recently in Sokoto, Sokoto State, courtesy of the Sokoto State Primary Health Care Development Agency with support from key Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) partners including WHO, CDC, Rotary International, TSHIP and UNICEF.
While the state claims it has not reported cases of Polio as at the time of the round-table, environmental surveillance however has shown the virus circulating in a few local government areas (LGAs) in the state. There are also a number of households that continue to reject OPV among the key non-compliance challenges of the eradication efforts in the state. This has not been helped with the emergence of anti-OPV groups in the state whose activities remain a threat to eradication efforts in Northern Nigeria.
Participants at the forum were drawn from the following: representative of the Sultan; State Primary Health Care Development Agency; academics from different faculties in various institutions of higher learning in each high risk state; state chapters of key professional bodies, especially the Nigerian Medical Association, Paediatrics Association of Nigeria, Civil Society Organisations, traditional and religious leaders; leaders of selected elite associations such as Senior Staff Association of Universities/Polytechnics; key officials of security and para-military bodies, including the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Prisons Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, and Department of State Services; and Polio Survivor Groups and media professionals and institutions.
The opening ceremony was chaired by the special adviser to the governor on Primary Health Care matters, Comrade Ibrahim Jibrin (represented by the Deputy Governor), who declared the round-table open. This was followed by a rundown of the objectives of the round-table and expectations of all participants. The objectives were:
- To create a forum for PEI Managers to share the success story so far, and tap from the goodwill, knowledge, experience and wisdom of the identified stakeholders
- To create a forum for the identified stakeholders to frankly express their views about the programme and make suggestions to help in addressing the current challenges faced by the programme.
- To expand the platform of stakeholders supporting the programme and to encourage broader ownership of the programme and its imminent success.
The technical session, chaired by the Executive Secretary of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Mohammed Sani Labaran, had a series of presentations which addressed key issues around:
- Progress of the PEI globally and nationally, with greater focus on the current situation in Sokoto State
- Key challenges the PEI faces in Nigeria (with ample time for the stakeholders to express their views and make suggestions)
- How the stakeholders can contribute to the success of the programme, statements of commitment for follow up.
The template of the discourse was built on a presentation on how vaccine works. With an initial basic definition, the presentation explained some of the salient points in the development of vaccines, examples of and a number of frequently asked questions on immunisation and vaccines.
This was followed by a presentation that document “PEI landscape globally, Nigeria and in Sokoto State: Success stories and current challenges.” The presentation traced the historical development of vaccines with a particular focus on OPV. It then explains the following: Brief Historical Background; Polio Eradication Strategies; Brief Global Update; Global Success Stories; PEI Update in Nigeria; Nigeria Success stories & current Challenges; Where we are in Sokoto in terms of PEI; Sokoto Success Stories & Current Challenges. The last presentation, in Hausa, dwelt on the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders to enhance the PEI in Sokoto State.
After extensive deliberations and discussions the participants therefore recommended the need for strategic approaches to PEI in Sokoto state. These approaches from the different stakeholder groups present include:
Polio Survivor Groups
- Commitment to public health education and continued support to PEI as constituted presently.
- Commitment to resolving of non-compliance during IPDs and other.
- Organise sensitisation and advocacy among groups within school communities.
- Address environmental sanitation within and associated health challenges within school communities.
- Advocate for establishment of sanitary health volunteers within higher institutions in collaboration with DAP for heath talks and education.
- Encourage collaboration between educational institutions and surrounding communities to help in house-to-house sensitisation during rounds.
- Partner with WHO, UNICEF,TSHIP/USAID, CDC, Rotary International and other stakeholders advocate to Head of institutions and board of State Primary health institutions for sensitisation.
- Investigative reporting of key issues of challenges to health care delivery in Sokoto State.
- Environmental and hygiene education at the community level for a reorientation on other health issues related to child survival.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)
- Collaboration with JAP, DAP and PSG on public health education and sensitisation
- Agree to have CSO Against Polio (CAP) to be formed with institutional framework during children day celebrations and other child health related activities.
- Address circulation of inciting religious materials and sermons against Polio and other immunisation efforts in the state.
- Provide security coverage against assault and harassment of vaccinators during IPDs backed with prompt reporting of cases
- Proactive support of health professionals groups for the formation of Polio eradication committee.
- Advocacy and health education on uptake of routine immunisation during routine medical activities.
- Full immunisation certificates as prerequisite for enrolment into school.
- Advocacy for the enforcements of public health legislation provisions (e.g re-introduction of sanitary inspectors).
- Continuous training and re-training through volunteer professional members with emphasis on proper selection of vaccinators/recorders etc
Traditional Rulers and Religious leaders
- Commitment to education of community members through dialogue at the community level, mosques and other community level focal points
- To weigh on government to address misinformation in the community so as to safeguard the lives of the community members
- Contribution towards proper selection of vaccinators and other team members at the community level.
- Weighing in on the Imams, Ullamas and preachers at the community for proper health education and orientation on health issues.
The communique was attested to on behalf of stakeholders in Sokoto State by:
- Representative of the Sultan (Seriki Bodinga)
- Academics from different faculties in various institutions of higher learning in each high risk state
- State chapters of key professional bodies, especially the Nigerian Medical Association, Paediatrics Association of Nigeria, Civil Societies Organisations, Traditional and Religious Leaders.
- Leaders of selected elite associations such as Senior Staff Association of Universities/Polytechnics, etc.
- Key officials of security and para-military bodies, including the police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Prisons Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, and Department State Services.
- Journalists, Polio Survivors Group and media professionals and institutions.