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UNICEF, SOMTEC train more health volunteers in Anambra

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United Children Fund (UNICEF) and Anambra State Social Mobilization and Technical Committee (SOMTEC) have completed inauguration and training of Volunteer Community Mobilizers (VCM) in the remaining 11 Local government Areas.

The inauguration took place recently at the council headquarters of Aguata (Ekwulobia), Anambra East (Otuocha), Awka North (Achalla), Awka South (Amawbia), Dunkofia (Ukpo), Idemili North (Ogidi), Njikoka (Abagana), Nnewi North (Nnewi), Onitsha North (Onitsha), Onitsha South (Fegge), Orumba North (Ajalli).

The programme was aimed at training community health workers who would be directing pregnant women to Primary healthcare centres (PHCs) nearest to them for Antenatal care (ANC) and safe delivery.

The VCM members who were 10 persons from each community and the Officers in charge (OICs) of the PHCs were trained to educate others on Essential family practices (EFPs) which include immunization, proper hand washing, personal and environmental hygiene.

Other EFPs includes stoppage of open defecation, ANC, Dangers of patronizing traditional birth attendants (TBA), sleeping under treated mosquito nets, exclusive breast feeding, knowing your HIV status to prevent mother to child transmission (PMCT) ,among others.

Speaking during the inauguration and training, SOMTEC desk officer, Ministry of Information and Public Enlightenment, Mrs Chineze George Ileka, asked the VCMs and OICs to embrace the health care services with passion and sincerity.

“When a pregnant woman delivers safely a sound child, the society becomes healthy. Encourage the pregnant women and nursing mothers to visit the nearest PHC for antenatal, immunization and free treated mosquito nets for malaria prevention”, said Ileka.

“Tell them we have qualified nurses at the PHCs which can manage any complication including couples with HIV to prevent mother to child transmission unlike the TBA who do not sterilize their blades and could cause imbecility in infants”, Ileka said.

She said that the programme was prompted because of a survey by UNICEF in 2014, which revealed high rate of maternal and child mortality and morbidity in Anaocha L.G.A, Anambra state.

Mrs George Ileka said that Anaocha L.G.A adopted the use of VCM among other initiatives to change the status quo from highest mother and child mortality to the least in Anambra State.

Ileka said that Unicef collaboration with state government sponsored the programme since 2014 in ten L.G.As and have decided to involve the remaining 11 L.G.As.

Mrs Ileka further distributed materials that VCM would use to record the names of pregnant women they identified and talked to as individuals, during home visits and as a group during market & church outreaches.

Speaking to nurses, Mrs Ileka pleaded with them to be friendly and sacrificial to the pregnant women who come for antenatal, adding that they should avoid excessive billing of patients.

“Don’t be antagonistic to the rude ones. Deal with them with knowledge. Remember that pregnancy comes with lots of stress. Some of them are very poor you can afford to give tithe of routine drugs to the less privileged ones”, said Ileka.

The duo from the Anambra Ministry of Health, coordinator HIV/AIDS, Dr. Anaeme Afam and State Health Educator, Mrs. Scholastica Okoli, urged the VCM to help prevent HIV parents to child transmission which is prevalent in Anambra State, saying that there are free HIV test kits and anti retroviral drugs at PHCs.

Earlier in his address, former president general Aguliuzoigbo, Anaocha L.G.A Mr Emeka Anaeto said that VCM which he was part of contributed majorly to the success of reducing maternal and child mortality in Anaocha.

Anaeto reminded them that VCM were not paid but opted to sacrifice their time and strength for the health of others in their community, saying that God does not forget any labour of love.

However, responding to UNICEF team at Idemili North, the chairman, Asha Nnabuife, ably represent by the PRO, Mrs Esther Olikeze, said that his administration would endevour to assist the PHC especially in terms of drugs revolving loan scheme.

She assured that the VCM would be assisted to do their best in reducing maternal and child mortality in Idemili North.
In a vote of thanks at Nnewi, Comrade Innocent Ike (VCM) thanked the team for their efforts to improve health care of Ndi Anambra but pleaded that they should be provided with identity card.

Similarly, the trio of Mrs. Onua Nnoruka from Abba, Dunukofia, Charles Nwankwo from Okpuno, Awka South, Mr. Ike Nwosisi from Ogidi, Idemili North, in their separate speeches, pledged that they would be committed to the health care of their communities as VCMs.

Moreso, at Awka North, the Anambra State Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Charles Nwoji, commended the VCM for accepting the community service, urging them to feel free to ask any question that would enhance their performance.

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