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Photo Essay: UNICEF launches polio campaign to protect children in Yemen

By Ansar Rasheed and Marie Bracquemont
Photography: C4D partners south hub

Aden, Yemen, 7 August 2018 - In Yemen, child mortality remains very high at an estimate of one child dying every 10 minutes from mainly preventable diseases, including poliovirus. Given this context, UNICEF Yemen is supporting the national Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) to reinforce routine childhood immunization by procuring vaccines, sustaining the delivery of routine vaccinations, providing operational costs to health facilities and funds to train health workers.

One important part of UNICEF activities is social mobilization to raise community and household awareness of polio, to mobilize the use of available immunization services, and to respond quickly and effectively to communities’ immunization concerns and needs. Thanks to Communication for Development (C4D) approaches, UNICEF ensures maximum community and caregiver participation in polio campaigns.

The C4D UNICEF Yemen team has recently launched a polio campaign covering 8 governorates for a total of 99 districts in the South of Yemen, using different channels to engage with communities and disseminate essential messages about polio thanks to a strong network of 1,500 Community Volunteers. The polio immunization campaign is for nearly 5 million children under 5 years, including from high risk groups that have been displaced due to the ongoing crisis.

Community volunteers hold a puppet theater sensitization session on polio with displaced women and girls from Taiz and Hoddidah, currently hosted in Burykha camp, Aden.

“We are using different interpersonal communication approaches when engaging with the communities. We want to make sure that each approach is suitable for each group, easy to understand and with a strong impact. Everyone has the right to know about lifesaving practices, like immunization” says Fatima Rayed, Community Volunteers in Burykah camp for IDPs (Internally Displaced People), Aden.

“Behind me, a polio sensitization session for women is taking place. I have attended a similar session yesterday for men. The community volunteers informed us about the campaign and how it is important to immunize our children. As an IDP father, I will make sure that my son, Ahmed, who is 1 year and half, is immunized from polio and other preventable diseases” Saber from Taiz lives with his family in Burykha camp, Aden.

A total of 12 community radios have been involved in the polio campaign, such as Shabwa community radio which is running a live-program allowing listeners to engage live with a C4D community volunteer.

More than 1,500 Community Volunteers have been trained to engage with the population, here during a session in Kattabah, Dhale.

A total of 450 religious leaders are involved in the polio campaign. Here, the Imams sensitize their community members on the importance of children immunization in Ahwar, Abyan.

With the generous contribution of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KS Relief), UNICEF is striving to reach 390,000 children under 1 years of age for vaccination against 9 Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs) and 750,000 children between 6 months and 5 years old vaccinated against MR in Yemen. The support of the aid and relief center is crucial to save thousands of lives through its contribution and to ensure that children are protected against VPDs.



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