|A traditional leader, whose support is important to the success of immunization rounds in Nigeria, one of four polio-endemic countries remaining in the world.|
UNICEF encourages governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to support immunization services and motivate and mobilize communities to support parents and caregivers in having their children immunized on-time with the complete series.
UNICEF seeks to ensure that immunization is universally recognised as one essential way to protect the health of our children. In this context, it works with ministries of health and a range of partners including media and civil society to ensure that communities have accurate, trusted, and reliable information on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
Health workers are often the primary source of immunization information for parents and caregivers. UNICEF, therefore, encourages health workers to maintain a child-friendly approach: treat all parents or caregivers with respect, explain immunization and how to care for the child post-immunization; and advise when they must return for the next immunization visit.
Preventing pneumonia and diarrhoea through community engagement
UNICEF convened a consultation from 8-9 December 2009 to strengthen national communication capacity and the engagement of individuals and communities in the fight against the leading child killers — pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Newly available vaccines against pneumococcus and rotavirus, the leading causes of pneumonia and diarrhoea, offer new hope in saving children’s lives. However, as the new vaccines will not protect children against all causes of pneumonia and diarrhoea, the combination of immunization with other interventions including intensified nutrition, hygiene and sanitation is what will maximize their impact.
Communication is key to ensure that individuals and communities will not only rely on immunization for protection against these diseases, but that they also adopt the desired healthy practices such as timely attendance at routine immunization sessions, early and exclusive breast-feeding, hand-washing with soap, provision of appropriate home-care, and prompt care-seeking in response to ‘danger-signs’.
For more on the consultation, read the report (PDF).
Diarrhoea: Why children are still dying and what can be done
UNICEF/WHO joint report on preventing and treating the second leading killer of children, 14 October 2009.
Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (GAPP), WHO/UNICEF November 2009