NOA Visits Umunneochi, As Critical Stakeholders Pledge To Take Responsibility, Assures Support To VCMs
Critical stakeholders in Umunneochi L.G.A, of Abia State have assured the National Orientation Agency, NOA of their unalloyed support to the constituted NOA Volunteer Community Mobilizers, VCMs in the task of sensitizing the people on the Essential Family Practices, EFPs, COVID-19 prevention and vaccine.
This assurance came 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.
Recall that COVID-19 vaccination exercise had suffered high hesitancy due to rumours, misinformation and fake news in the social media.
The stakeholders including the paramount traditional ruler of Isuochi is Eze G. I. Ezekwesiri, the Ochi 1 of Isuochi, Eze Patrick Okafor, the traditional ruler of Aro-ikpa, Eze Ernest Onwuka and the President General of Obinaolu community expressed deep appreciation to NOA for their unrelenting efforts to furnish the populace with the government programmes and policies and promised to mobilize their people to take the COVID- 19 vaccine.
Furthermore, they promised to work in synergy with the VCMs and also to be crusaders of the EFPs and COVID-19 prevention, even as they appealed that health workers and medical experts extend the vaccination exercise to the hinterland.
In her speech, the Abia State Director, National Orientation Agency, NOA Lady Ngozi Okechukwu (Ph.D) passionately appealed to community leaders especially traditional rulers and community governance structure to assist government strengthen the job of the VCMs.
Lady Okechukwu said the the theme of 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 according to her, 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 the each one get one approach of the Band of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
She disclosed that the programme waa driven by NOA and its partners and sponsored by UNICEF who cares for the welfare of women and children.
Lady Okechukwu described the VCMs as natural and honourable leaders, who are the influential forces of communication with strong networks in the community.
She pointed out that the idea behind the VCMs was 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.
She believed that if the VCMs were creatively mobilized and deployed, there will be a high probability of improving the COVID-19 prevention knowledge base and reducing vaccine hesitancy.
Lady Okechukwu said, as an agency that interfaces with the grass root, NOA has painstakingly observed that vaccine hesitancy was high due to rumours, misinformation and fake news in the social media, adding, “Today, I call on all to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PROTECTION OF ALL.
“You all must ensure and uptake in routine immunization, Antenatal care attendance and other Essential Family Practices. I urge every participant to key in to today’s message and take personal responsibility to make a difference”.
One of the resource persons and the State health educator, Mrs Meg Onwu who further exposed and expounded the attributes of the VCMs, 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.
The Assistant epidemiologist in Abia State, Mr Charles Ibeleme advised the people to ignore all the misinformation and rumours associated with COVID-19 and the vaccine, but protect themselves by getting vaccinated.
Declaring the event open earlier, the Chairman of Umunneochi Local Government Area, Chief Ifeanyi Madu represented by his Deputy, Jubilee Ezechikamnario accompanied by the Head of Service, Chief Monday Ugorji described the initiative as a welcome development and promised to ensure that the programme records huge success in Umunneochi.