Battling misperceptions for every child’s health

In a context where no case of poliomyelitis has been recorded in 5 years, having communities understanding the necessity of vaccinating their children has become challenging. In Chad, vaccinators remain more than ever mobilized to visit and reach every village and home to maintain the full mobilization of communities for the immunization and protection of their children.

Engaging populations is critical, to maintain and increase immunization levels of children, especially when parents start showing signs of reluctance. For this, vaccinators and community mobilizers are critical.

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On a mat under the trees, Mohammed Ali confirms his four children are vaccinated and their vaccinations up to date, but he « do(es) not understand why we must vaccinate children if no case of polio has been declared in Chad for the past 5 years.”

Mohammed is not an exception. In a context where the last case of polio was recorded 5 years ago, parents start showing reluctance to continue vaccinating their children, asking why so many campaigns are still occurring. A situation that could eventually tarnish vaccination efforts and progress made in the prevention of epidemics.

Indeed, a polio-free country does not mean that all risks of contamination have disappeared, particularly in a country characterized by low vaccination levels and the proximity with Nigeria, where new cases have been recently declared. Population movements between countries, especially in the Lake Chad region, calls for vigilance, emphasizing on prevention.

In this context, communication is key and the central piece of it remains the mobilization of communities. « We must continue involving religious leaders, community mobilizers and leaders » says Seina Hissein Adam, head of the health center in the 6th district of N’Djamena.

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In the last October campaign, among the 2 million children vaccinated, were also 13,000 refugees and displaced children, more than 15,000 nomadic children, 300 children crossing the borders and 29,000 children under 5 in weekly markets vaccinated. Those who are usually called the hard to reach.

These achievements are the direct result of strategy of mobilisation of community leaders and groups who tirelessly stride across every villages, and households to reach children, including the most vulnerable ones.

While the next campaign is scheduled for April 2018, UNICEF and the Chadian government do not relax efforts in support of vaccinators, mobilizers and supervisors to reach children wherever they are; from markets to playgrounds, schools to church and mosques, water points to stores and neighbours, and breaking doubts to maintain commitment and understanding of families of the necessity to immunize children.

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Thanks to the generous contributions of its donors, UNICEF and partners are focused on delivering continued programming interventions while building capacity at the local level to reach the most vulnerable populations in need of health services. The goal is to leave no child behind and achieve universal access to quality health services for every child.

UNICEF conducted a total of 7 synchronized immunization campaigns across the country in 2017. The national polio immunization campaign in November 2017 covered 12 of the 23 regions of Chad within which vaccines were administered together with Vitamin A supplement to nearly 1,340,000 children from 6 to 59 months. Nearly 1,403,000 children from 9 to 59 months were also offered a tablet of Albendazole.

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