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UNICEF Community Mobilizers sensitize displaced communities on cholera vaccination

“I was vaccinated today. We all are in my family and I will make sure my little brother Sami will be too,” says Jamal, a displaced boy from Al Hudaydah, here with his brother Sami.

By Ansar Rasheed, Communication for Development Officer, UNICEF Aden Field Office

Aden, Yemen, 29 October 2018 – Last week, UNICEF launched the second round of the Oral Cholera Vaccination (OCV) campaign in Aden, in southern Yemen. From 27 to 31 October, the five-day campaign, is being conducted in 5 districts of the governorate by 264 mobile vaccinators and 528 health vaccinators being deployed in the field to reach a total number of 269,000 people living in risk areas.

The first round of the OCV campaign in Aden took place in May 2018, reaching out to more than 274,000 adults and children above 1 year of age. The OCV campaign is supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and World Bank funds, through the International Development Association (IDA).

In 2017, Yemen suffered one of the largest cholera outbreaks of recent times with over 1 million suspected Cholera/Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) cases reported. Since the beginning of this year, there have been more than 213,000 suspected cholera cases reported, with 318 associated deaths. Children under 5 years old represent 31% of total suspected cases.

The OCV campaign is part of a comprehensive integrated Cholera Response Plan that brings together relevant sectors including Health, Water and Sanitation, and community mobilization, for prevention, response and system-strengthening approach to prevent further outbreaks.

Communication for Development (C4D) approaches are particularly important to sensitize the vulnerable communities, including internally displaced people, on the importance of being vaccinated to protect themselves against epidemic diseases, such as cholera.

In Aden, UNICEF trained 420 Community Volunteers in the targeted districts to engage actively with the communities on cholera prevention and vaccination, in cooperation with the national health authorities and WHO and with the support of donors such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia via the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), the United Arab Emirates and Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Before and during the OCV campaign, UNICEF Community Volunteers are aiming at sensitizing a total of 87,000 households directly through home visits and community gatherings and more than 745,000 trough concerts and mass media, such as public announcements and banners.

Nabila, a UNICEF Community Volunteer, is giving a session on cholera prevention in Fokom camp for displaced people in Aden. Nabila is one of 50 C4D trained and active Community Volunteers who are coming from displaced communities themselves. These raising awareness sessions are held thanks to the support of KSRelief and UAE Aid.

“I just took part in a session with Nabila, she is a displaced person like me. She told us how important it is to be vaccinated, regardless of the age. I will do it and will make sure my children are protected as well,” Saleh, a displaced man from Taiz, posing with his son.

Some of the UNICEF Community Volunteers are musicians and they use their art to pass on lifesaving messages on cholera prevention and response during concerts, touring in the five targeted districts of Aden.

“We are not afraid of cholera anymore. If we get the vaccine and take simple practices like washing our hands with soap and drinking clean water, we will be protected and will keep cholera away,” says Mazen, 13 years-old, posing between his friends during a UNICEF concert, organized with support of Sida.

 

 
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