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Dady Traoré: «Immunizing my children is my responsibility as a mother»

© UNICEF Mali / 2014 / Cisse

By Birama Cissé

BAMAKO, 5 February 2014 – Dady Traoré, aged 23, was at the Community Health Centre in the Torokorobougou neighborhood of Bamako where she had come to immunize her daughter Kadiatou against rotavirus.  Dady Traoré Kalaban Coro lives nearby with her children, while her husband works abroad and sends money home to support the family. All dressed up, this young mom brought newly born Kadiatou Kondo to her immunization appointment, following a schedule given to her by health workers. For her baby, Dady Traoré takes into account every effort to ensure she is as healthy as she can be.

Following her neighbor’s advice on the importance of rotavirus vaccine, Dady went to her nearest community health center to vaccinate Kadiatou, who at the time of vaccination was 45 days old. The rotavirus vaccine was introduced for the first time in Mali in January 2014 as part of the expanded immunization program. The introduction of this new vaccine is taking place in three phases: first, in Bamako, then in the regional capitals and finally, in the rural areas. Maintaining the cold chain for vaccine transport is essential. Strengthening the system at the country-level is possible thanks in part to the financial support of USAID.     

Rotavirus causes children to have severe diarrhea which causes dehydration and can lead to death if untreated. After malaria, diarrheal diseases are the third most prominent cause of preventable death among children under 5 in Mali. The introduction of the vaccine will have important impact to reduce the incidence of diarrhea and thus infant mortality. It is estimated that 7,000 children under 5 die each year due to rotavirus in Mali.

Information and awareness-raising at the heart of the campaign
This Wednesday morning, Dady is among dozens of women who have come to vaccinate their children. She participates enthusiastically in the weekly immunization awareness sessions on the rotavirus vaccine. The facilitator, Ms. Siby Kototoumou Sacko, a nurse at the Community Health Association of Kalabankoura explains on the dangers and consequences of rotavirus.

"Most women who come to follow the vaccination of their children did not go to school. That is why it is necessary to educate mothers directly, in their language, Bambara," she explains. In describing the dangers of the illness Ms. Sacko can better ensure that mothers know why it’s crucial that their children get vaccinated against it.

Dady said that as she listened to the nurse, she clearly understood how useful vaccination is and explains that she will educate other women in her neighborhood about disease prevention, especially diarrhea.

"Today, thank God, my child is doing very well. Kadiatou did not experience any difficulty related to preventable diseases. I do not need to wait until my child gets diarrhea to go to the health center, if there is a vaccine to prevent this. Immunizing my children is my responsibility as a mother.  I thank UNICEF and its partners for everything they do for the well-being of our children and ourselves because as we like to say here: if a child is sick, the whole family suffers," said Dady.

With the introduction of the vaccine against rotavirus, the lives of thousands of children will be preserved in Mali. The initiative is made possible thanks to the commitment of the Government of Mali and its partners, including USAID to improve children's health.
Following the advice of a neighbour on the importance of rotavirus vaccine, Dady did not hesitate to go to the nearest community health centre and to vaccinate her daughter.



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