More children reached during campaign thanks to local leaders
By Massimiliano Sani
Massinga, INHAMBANE, 27 November 2012 – In November of 2012, the Ministry of Health (MoH), with support from UNICEF, rolled out National Health Week to more than 4 million children under the age of five, and to 500,000 women aged 15 to 49. The services available during National Health Week included providing children with polio vaccination, Vitamin A supplements and deworming tablets and providing their caregivers with family planning.
To reach the maximum number of families, the MoH used mobile units to travel to very remote communities, in addition to also providing services in health centers, schools and markets. These mobile units visit rural communities before the launch of the Health Week to distribute information about the health services available during National Health Week so that families can make maximum use of them.
Inhambane is a province located a few hours’ drive north of Mozambique’s capital Maputo. Throughout Inhambane province the mobile brigades’ schedule was made known in advance of the campaign week. Community radio announcements and advocacy meetings with political parties and women’s associations played an important role in spreading information about where the mobile brigades would be located. In addition, the MoH and UNICEF engaged religious and traditional leaders, who have significant influence within their local communities, to help encourage families to show up.
Chipongo is a rural community in Inhambane province. It is 20km from the closest health center of Rio das Pedras, with few families receiving routine health services. Jamie Uanessela is Chipongo’s traditional leader and he played a critical role when the mobile unit visited his community, by making sure that all children under five and their caregivers turned out during the campaign.
“The whole community was mobilised,” Jaime said. “Because I myself was well informed, I was able to share the information with other local chiefs who in turn spread the word.
On the day the mobile unit visited Chipongo, Jamie noticed that at least three eligible families had not shown up.
“So we decided to go find them,” he says. Which they did, successfully reaching out to them and providing them with medical services.
“If the local community leader claims families are missing we trust him because he knows his community,” says Christina, a health officer with the Ministry of Health. “We have to ensure that all families are covered in this area because tomorrow we will be in another town far away from here”.
In total, the mobile brigade was able to provide services to 350 children in Chipongo community on that day as a result of effective social mobilisation, good logistics and the care and concern of local leaders such as Jaime Uanessela.
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