Political, religious, traditional and civil society leaders in the South Region have pledged to kick polio out of their various jurisdictions.
The leaders made the solemn commitment during a two-day “Governor’s forum advocacy workshop in Ebolowa which ended on September 14. The workshop which brought together top government officials, various national and international stakeholders in the health sector was hinged on the theme, “Advocacy for an accountability framework”.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, the South Region Governor Felix Nguele Nguele said the battle against polio should be a priority for every leader. He lauded the United Nations Childen’s Fund, UNICEF and the government for taking up the initiative to engage regional and local leaders in the fight against the polio virus. The governor urged the leaders at the forum to engage in vaccination activities and surmount all the obstacles that impede the onslaught against polio.
“The fact that a division in the South region was badly affected by the wild polio virus in 2013, is an indicator which should fire our engagement against the virus” he stated. The governor equally hammered on the need for the leaders to work together in a bid to improve vaccination activities, fight against HIV, prevent Ebola and protect all children and women in the region.
Felicité Tchibindat, UNICEF Country Representative, said, health and protection of children is the responsibility of everybody. “Health concerns everyone; from the family to the head of a community and the administrative leaders. It is not the responsibility of the Ministry of health alone. It involves those making decisions in the community as well”, she said.
The UNICEF boss added that the involvement of the Governor and all other stakeholders remains essential, both in the coordination and the supervision of vaccination campaigns. Going by her, each region has specific health problems which need leaders to work towards responding to its specific health needs. The situation of HIV in the South Region is really high compared to other regions, she said.
According to official statistics, HIV prevalence rate in the region is 7.2% above the national average of 4.3%. The UNICEF boss urged the leaders of the South region to work harder towards finding out the reasons for such high prevalence and look for workable solutions.
It was equally revealed that the South region is at high risk of getting the Ebola virus due to its geographical location, the people’s eating habits and the presence of frugivorous bats.
It is against this backdrop, that the leaders used the governor’s forum to reiterate commitment to make the region polio free, promote immunisation activities, prevent the Ebola virus disease, fight against HIV / AIDS and remove all forms of violence against women in the region.
One of the leaders’ Mallam Oumarou, Imam of the Ebolowa Central Mosque, said he plans to convince people who have refused to allow their children for vaccination on the importance of vaccinating their children. “This forum has really enlightened me on various health issues I didn’t know about my community. I will use the information I have gotten from this advocacy event to edify my people”.
For his part, Jean Jacques Zam, CPDM Member of Parliament for Mvila Sub Division, said, the Governor’s forum opened his eyes to many health problematics in his region. The MP declared his desire to form powerful synergy with various actors to kick polio out of the Region while advocating for an increase in health budget allocation in parliament.