Immunization: stakeholders, states renew commitment to implement NI-ABAE’s approach

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By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

The implementation of New Incentives titled ‘All Babies Are Equal (NI-ABAE)’ program will continue to align with the Federal and State laws, as well as policies including immunization plans and priorities, a communiqué has stated.

In addition, Health authorities in the implementing States, have agreed to greater ownership of the immunization program, having confirmed that the program is in line with the routine immunization and public health plans and priorities.

These were part of the 12-point Communique issued at the end of stakeholders meeting held weekend in Kano, comprising of NI-ABAE officials and policymakers from implementing States of Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Sokoto, Bauchi and Gombe.

The communique, signed by representatives of implementing states government and NI-ABAE, including Dr. Shamsuddeen Yahaya, Executive Secretary, Katsina State Primary Healthcare Agency; Dr. Abdulwahab Ahmad, Senior Health Adviser, NGF (NI-ABAE Adviser); Dr. Neyu Iliyasu, DF & CHS, SPHCDA Kaduna State; Murtala Hassan, SPHCDB, Zamfara State; Alhaji Aminu Inuwa, Director Program, Sultan Foundation; and Nura Muhammad, Stakeholder Relations Director, NI-ABAE, respectively.

The implementing States agreed to provide enabling environment for NI-ABAE to support programme expansion of the Conditional Cash Transfer for Routine immunization to more LGAs health facilities and infants, the communique noted.

It added that “States Ministries for Health, through their commissioners should facilitate meetings between Governors of their States and NI-ABAE representatives, encourage the Governors to present the programs gains and successes at every forum including the national health stakeholders to support the program.

“The stakeholders agree that NI-ABAE should intensify engagement with traditional institutions and other community influencers to aid the successful implementation of all components of the program”, it stated.

Participants also agreed that NI-ABAE, through the implementing States, should continue to provide transparent and regular updates to all stakeholders, support on routine immunization, health, and social protection.

The meeting was convened to among other things “review program progress, share experiences including challenges, and proffer solutions to implementation gaps,” the communique stated.

It also “received updates from the NI-ABAE Stakeholder Relations Unit and Operations Unit on future expansion plans from the NI-ABAE supported program, including the contingency plan for program phase out.
The participants discussed extensively on vaccine supply, use of program data and ownership of the supported CCT Program by the state government.

NI-ABAE has been working in Nigeria since 2017, providing conditional cash incentives to select parents, to avail their infants access to full immunization against childhood-killer diseases, including BCG (against tuberculosis), PENTA (against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b), PCV (against pneumococcal disease), and MCV 1&2 (against measles).

The program currently covers over 960,000 children in six states of northern Nigeria. “It will expand to cover additional five states in 2023.

The caregiver of each infant receives ₦500 each for the first four routine immunization visits, and ₦2,500 for the fifth and sixth visit, meant to compensate for transportation to hospital, loss of trading income, and waiting time. ‘It is also geared towards creating behavioral change and awareness on routine immunization.

An assessment covering 2017 – 2020 found out that the CCT program increases the likelihood of children being fully immunized by 27 percentage points, and increases rates of individual vaccinations by 14 to 21 percentage points.

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