UNICEF and IGNOU Partner with Media on Routine Immunization to Reach Remote Communities
NEW DELHI, BHOPAL AND JABALPUR, 27-28 JUNE 2011 - True to its commitment to being the people’s University and reaching the unreached, Indira Gandhi National Open University, in partnership with UNICEF, has launched a unique drive to educate grassroots level media professionals on routine immunization.
Under the partnership with UNICEF, IGNOU will provide its robust video-conferencing facilities to reach out to national, state and district media in strategic and interactive workshops on routine immunization. The initiative was inaugurated simultaneously in Delhi, Bhopal and Jabalpur using the video-conferencing studios of IGNOU.
National media from IGNOU’s Gyan Darshan Delhi studio connected with over 80 state and district level media gathered at its Bhopal and Jabalpur centers. Two additional media workshops are planned from June 2011 to February 2012, building a core network of media reporting on routine immunization. These will culminate in a national level congregation later this year.
“In partnership with UNICEF, IGNOU is committed to creating awareness among journalists so they can encourage and inform the public on important issues such as immunization and other developmental priorities”, said Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU.
Speaking at the launch, David McLoughlin, Deputy Representative, UNICEF India, expressed his appreciation for the partnership between UNICEF and IGNOU and said that it would help improve the penetration of the routine immunization programme in the most remote areas through an effective network of informed journalists. “Through this partnership, we hope to ensure that all children can enjoy a healthy life, no matter what their socio-economic background,” he said.
While welcoming the guests, Professor Shambhu Nath Singh, Director, School of Journalism & New Media Studies (SOJNMS) said that this effort involves an innovative use of technology to train grassroots journalists in India.
Immunization is a highly cost effective way of preventing the diseases that kill the poorest children. A survey published by UNICEF in 2009*, states that the single biggest reason behind India’s low immunization coverage is that mothers do not feel the need to immunize their children (28.2 per cent), followed by a lack of knowledge about vaccines (26.3 per cent).
Sharing data with media, Dr. N.K Dhamija, Assistant Commissioner Immunization, Ministry of Family & Health Welfare, pointed out."Besides making people aware of the immunization schedule and benefits of the vaccination, media can also inform people about cold chain and its role in effective immunisation," Dr. Dhamija added. He also informed that Government of India, besides providing vaccination against six vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) Universal ( Routine ) Immunisation Programme, has added vaccination against Hepatitis-B across the country and Second Dose of Measles Vaccine under Universal Immunsiation Programme.
During the launch, Shravan Garg, Group Editor, Dainik Bhaskar urged the journalists present to focus on child deaths caused by the lack of vaccination. He suggested that completed immunization cards should be made compulsory for admission in schools, for every child. Satish K. Singh, Editor, ZEE News Network, highlighted the role of doctors in rural development and the need for adequate infrastructure, especially in hard-to-reach areas.
Q.W. Naqvi, Director, News & Current Affairs, TV Today Network, said that there was a need for a national helpline on immunization to provide answers to queries on immunization. All the senior media professionals present agreed that media can and should play a constructive role in dispelling myths and creating awareness about routine immunization.
At the end of the launch event in Delhi, UNICEF’s booklet on “Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity” was released by David McLoughlin, Deputy Representative, UNICEF India. Angela Walker, Chief of Advocacy & Partnerships, UNICEF India, explained how the booklet tells the stories of empowered rural and urban adolescents making a big difference in their own communities.
While sharing data for Madhya Pradesh, Dr. Manohar Agnani, Director NRHM, Bhopal, pointed out that immunization coverage in MP was at 42.9 per cent as per CES 2009 and one of the major challenges was the high drop-out rate.
*Coverage evaluation Survey 2009