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SOMTEC Holds Review Meeting for 2023 August Women Meetings HPV Vaccination, Health Campaigns

By Uzo Ugwunze :

The Anambra State Social Mobilization and Technical Committee (SOMTEC), a United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)-assisted project domiciled in the State Ministry of Information (MOI), has held a One-day Review Meeting with Field workers (FLWs) of 21 LGAs who embarked on the health campaign during the 2023 August Women Meetings.

The review meeting, which was held at the King David Hotel in Awka, was with Community Mobilization officers (COMOs) and Health Educators who were sensitizing 20 communities per LGA in Anambra State on healthy living in order to achieve positive Social Behavior Change (SBC) through women’s August meetings.

According to the SOMTEC Project Desk officer, MOI, Mrs. Grace Onwukwe, this Review meeting was supposed to be a planning and orientation meeting that ought to be held before the August meetings on health campaigns, but it was done online for the FLWs because they were already at the field when UNICEF gave the directive.

“The theme of the August meeting on sensitization includes the Human Papillomavirus vaccination campaign, which targets adolescent girls between the ages of 9 to 14 years in order to protect them before they become sexually active.

“Women should know the importance of the first 1000 days of a child, what a pregnant woman needs to do from conception till after delivery, the prenatal, antenatal, and postnatal periods, from conception to when the child is two years old.

“UNICEF has observed that the first 1000 days of a child’s life determine the child’s future. When a child is properly immunized, well-fed, and raised in a clean and healthy environment, with the birth registered, the child can be protected from violence or any other form of child abuse.

“The need to continue applying Essential family practices (EFPs) is also important to prevent avoidable sickness and deaths. These were communicated to the FLWs online, so we are here to review what they did and listen to the challenges they encountered during the sensitization,” Mrs. Onwukwe said.

The UNICEF Resource person, Mrs. Chineze George-Ileka, discussed the need for parents to allow their girl child between the ages of 9 to 14 years to receive the HPV vaccine, which was likely to commence in Anambra by 2024.

“Parents should allow their girl children between the ages of 9 to 14 years to receive the HPV vaccine before they become sexually active to protect them from HPV, cervical cancer, warts, and other related infections. 

“Prevention is better than cure. Parents should advice their children to avoid premarital sex and couples should maintain one sexual partner because keeping multiple sexual partners is dangerous.”

According to her, symptoms of HPV include virginal discharge, skin infection, and, in some cases, painful sex and the flow of blood. One with such symptoms should go for a smear test, a cervical cancer test, or see a professional health practitioner,” Mrs. George-Ileka said.

“Also wash your hands regularly with soap or ash under running water. Cross your fingers while handwashing, wash your nails, and wash up to your elbow. Critical times for hand washing include after visiting public places, before cooking, eating,, or breastfeeding your infant, after visiting the toilet, or after disposing of children’s faeces.

“Moreso, properly dispose of children’s faeces. Open defecation is harmful to health because flies that perch on excreta will find their way to your food. Encourage every household to use a latrine, pour-flush toilet, or water closet toilet, which should always be covered and washed regularly.

“Concerning environmental cleanliness, Keep the kitchen and surroundings clean. Wash kitchen utensils and cutlery before use because wall geckos may have licked them, and their saliva can cause death. Dispose of empty cans and dustbins to avoid breeding mosquitoes and rats.”

Mrs. George-Ileka further informed them to expect the introduction of the HPV vaccine in Anambra State, saying it was going to be free by the Federal Government.

Speaking on first 1000 days of a child, the Anambra State Health Educator, Mrs. Uju Onwuegbuzina, said that it starts from conception until the child’s second birthday. As soon as a woman misses her menstruation, she should register for antenatal

“Immunization continues till 2 years no more for 1 year. After delivery, the mother should do early initiation by breastfeeding the infant without removing the collostrum. Exclusively breastfeed the child for the first 6 months without water. After 6 months, breastfeeding continues with supplementary, complementary, and nutritional feeding until age 2,” said Mrs. Onwuegbuzina.

Moreover, the National Population Commission (NPC) Anambra State Director, TLP Joachim Ulasi encouraged the health workers at the facilities to help in proper documentation of registration of births, saying that only birth certificate or declaration of age issued by NPC remains the authorized, birth certificate in Nigeria.

“We have about 151 birth registration centres in Anambra located at health centres, palaces, Town halls, and LG Secretariats. It is an offense not to register the birth of your child. The NPC Birth Certificate is free, issued once in a lifetime, and for those under 18 years. Those over 18 years old are issued an Attestation of age after tendering their court affidavit. By September 1, 2023, the NPC will digitalize the process of documenting birth certificates”.

Women were also enlightened on the need for parents and guardians to be mindful about who they leave to look after their children or wards to avoid exposing unsuspecting minors to sexual molestation and paedophiles out of carelessness.

In his goodwill message, NOA State Director, Mr. Joe Uchendu, commeded the field workers for their efforts toward spreading information to enhance the health and wellness of Ndi Anambra, thanking UNICEF and other partners for leading the campaign for HPV vaccination.

Others in attendance include the UNICEF program officer, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Director, NPC Anambra State, Anambra State MOI Permanent Secretary and Directors of Information, Administration, and Account, State and LG Health Educators, NOA Community Mobilization Officers (COMOs) at all the 21 LGAs, and the media. (Ministry of Information)

The information officer reports from Awka


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