By Hassan Zaggi
The World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the Lagos State Government have trained 1, 880 community health informants in Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance and other major symptoms of vaccine preventable diseases in 2019.
This is in their determination to intensify routine immunization and AFP surveillance in the state and the nation at large.
In another development, recognizing significance of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in communities, at least 10,000 TBAs were registered in various Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Lagos, trained and certified as ‘Community Birth Attendants’
Speaking, the Disease Surveillance Notification Officer (DSNO) of Mushin LGA, Mrs Christiana Oladipupo, disclosed that: “Upon completion of the training, the TBAs are given maternity kits consisting of all the crucial tools needed in neo-natal care.
“TBAs are also encouraged to work with community informants and surveillance officers, notifying them of any strange symptoms detected in pregnant women, newborns or young infants in their communities.”
This is even as impressed with results from the WHO-led intervention, the Chair of the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC), Professor Rose Leke, for the eradication of Poliomyelitis, said: “I am truly impressed with the level of knowledge displayed by the community birth attendants I met.
“It is refreshing to see the impact this intervention is having in communities and I am sure with the type of determination and passion these women hold, Nigeria and the Africa region is on track to eradicate polio and beat as many vaccine preventable diseases”.
The commendation by the ARCC is coming at the time where there are some unnoticed heroes who have made tremendous sacrifices and impact in the fight against polio and other preventable diseases.
For example, Mrs Mojisola Shotola is a government trained Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) with over 40 years of experience and a force to be reckoned with in the fight against polio and other vaccine preventable diseases in her community.
According to her: “I help mothers to deliver roughly eight to 10 babies every month, and as soon as the babies are born, I accompany my patients to primary healthcare facilities to ensure the newborns receive their first dose of oral polio vaccine, hepatitis B and every first dose vaccine necessary.
“I also encourage all my patients to strictly adhere to the national routine immunization schedule and caution them of the dangers of not following up with immunizing their infants. Immunization to me is very important, I have seen what ignorance has done to many families”, she added.
A cross section of Nigerians interviewed by our Reporter, described people like Mrs Sotola as unsung heroes in the fight against polio and vaccine preventable disease.
They, however, advised that such hidden heroes should be celebrated and rewarded to encourage others.
It would be recalled that, ARCC had invited Nigeria to present its final documentation to receive a wild polio-free status in June 2020.
In this light, the ARCC embarked on two field verification visits. The first is to the Southern states, including Lagos and Oyo State, from December 9 – 20, 2019, and the second is scheduled for the Northern States, from March 2 – 13, 2020.