Deo, hero of vaccination against polio
The daily of a Community Mobilizer
The sun has just risen when Mbutu Deo Mbuzamabe closes his motorcycle repair shop. With his megaphone slung over his shoulder, the 45-year-old man sets off for the city of Kipaka in order to educate the members of his community to vaccinate the children against poliomyelitis.
“I decided to be a Community Mobilizer at the central office of the Kunda health zone because I am, firstly, an influential man in the community. When I speak, I am easily listened to. I have pledged to mobilize people, because previously, there was a lot of resistance to vaccination”
Normally, Deo works as a two-wheeled vehicle mechanic to feed his family and pay his children’s school fees. He is also a local correspondent for the community radio “Sauti Ya Mukaji” (the Countrymen Voice), based in Kasongo, 45 kilometers south of Kipaka. During the vaccination campaigns, the father of six children must make a choice.
“Poliomyelitis is a very dangerous disease. If it does not kill the child, it can paralyze him for life. The child will then become, a burden on his family. For the sake of our children, I have to leave everything behind during the campaign in order to solely work on community awareness and mobilization”
During the first phase of the response campaign, which took place from 27 to 29 June, the message of mobilizers like Deo had a positive echo within the community.
“I told my wife: if vaccine providers come by, vaccinate all our children because when only one child contracts polio, all the children in the village are at risk of being infected” testified Jafar Muneya, a resident of the village of Lububula in the territory of Kasongo.
On the first day of the campaign, Feza, Jafar’s wife, went to meet the vaccinators: “I want my children to be vaccinated because vaccination will protect them. If the children are vaccinated, they will not get sick” she said after both of her children each received two drops of vaccine.
Like the children of Feza and Jafar, more than 278.000 children under 5 years of age were vaccinated in the health zones of Alunguli, Kailo, Kampene, Kasongo, Kibombo, Kindu, Kunda, and Samba thanks to the work of Community Mobilizers supported by UNICEF.
Appointed within their own community, each Community Mobilizer works in a well-defined health area and has a role to raise awareness, among at least 50 households, about the nature and benefits of vaccination, the target population, the date, the methodology, and the partners involved in the vaccination campaign.