Friday, September 14, 2012

Measles Campaign draws thousands

     ...as men get involved

BY MELUSE KAPATAMOYO



Children queue up to receive the measles vaccine
 
With just a day to go, Zambia’s five day countrywide Measles Campaign has received overwhelming response in areas like Chazanga compound where 5025 children were vaccinated at Bwafwano Integrated Services Organisation (BISO) Health Centre during the first three days.

Despite some parents complaining of having to wait in the queue for many hours in the heat, by end of day on Wednesday, a total of 1,470 children had been vaccinated. The campaign runs from 10-15th September 2012 across the country.

A visit to the area by Alliance for Community Action on HIV and AIDS (Alliance Zambia) on Wednesday (September 9, 2012) found hundreds of children in queues accompanied by elders who included mothers, fathers and grandparents.

Siblings older than 15 years of age accompanied their younger brothers and sisters, and "shared" their pain of the measles prick.

Alliance Zambia took the opportunity to sensitise the community through drama on the need to take children to health facilities for a healthy living and also distributed baby caps donated by Save the Children Sweden (SCS).

“The response here has been overwhelming because most of the children in this area are under our programmes. The mothers are under our PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission) programme and as a result they prefer coming here.


BISO Executive Director Beatrice Chola
"We have been urging parents to take their children to other health posts for vaccination but that is not something they want to hear,” explained BISO Executive Director, Beatrice Chola.

She said because of the awareness campaigns on the PMTCT programme held in partnership with Alliance Zambia in 2011, Bwafwano has seen an increase in male involvement on maternal and child health issues.
                                                  
“The programme has really come up with good results. Men in this area are very much involved concerning PMTCT, immunisation of children and escorting their wives for ante-natal clinics,” said Mrs Chola.

For men like Joseph Zulu, father of three year old Naomi, escorting his wife and children to receive medical attention is a non debatable issue.


Naomi receives the measles vaccine
 He said having been raised by a grandmother, being around women and helping with household chores or trips to the clinic were normal to him.

“My wife and I are partners. Anything that involves her involves me. It is my duty to make life easier for her and vice-versa and bringing our child to the clinic while she attends to household chores is my way of supporting her," said Zulu.


Joseph with his niece Alice
 Two of Zulu's nieces were at his house on a visit from Pemba and he made sure that they too got vaccinated.

BISO situated in Chazanga, is a non-governmental organisation, established in 1996 during the time when high levels of Tuberculosis, HIV patients and vulnerable children were at an all time high.

The organisation which houses the health centre and a community school within its premises has a strong stamp in the community, and hence has had to deal with a high number of children turning up for vaccination than any other health centre in the area.

Bwafwano which started as a home based care with only 27 patients now has 15, 000 patients under the home based care programme. Other programmes include PMTCT, Voluntary Counseling and Testing, Sexual Reproductive Health and skills training. 

Chazanga catchment area has a population of 103, 000 people of low income with only one government clinic in the area. PYM

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