ikom mothers accept immunisation and exclusive breast feeding

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For some, it sounds so strange, but for the vast majority who knows the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and immunization, it is a welcome development and wished it will continue on monthly basis.  These were the impressions of over 1,000 mothers who gathered at the Ikom Council Headquarters to witness the last phase of the flag-off of the Cross River State 2012 Maternal, New Born and Child Health week celebration.
The mothers who had arrived the venue of the ceremony several hours were seen concentrating in either feeding their babies, caring and caressing them until there was signal that the Deputy Governor, Barrister Efiok Cobham, was close to the venue of the ceremony.
The Deputy Governor on his arrival was received by a standing ovation from the mothers, babies and council officials before officially declaring the event open.
Earlier, the Chairman of Ikom Local government council, Dr. Tony Ngban said “I feel highly humbled and privileged by the choice of Ikom local government as the venue for the flag-off of the state 2012 Maternal NewBorn and Child Week.  Your Excellency, the choice of Ikom as a launching pad for the event has provided me with the rare opportunity to bring into sharp focus our passion for a healthy people and environment.  Since the effectual take off of my administration in 2011, ikom local government has passionately shared and keyed into His Excellency’s vision to “make Cross River a leading Nigerian state, with prosperous, healthy and well educated citizens living in harmony with people, nature, and pursuing legitimate interest in freedom moderated by good governance.”
Interestingly, he said, “access to qualitative and affordable health care services has been our central focus.  The council has for the past two years allocated considerable percentage of its budget to health and health related activities.  In collaboration with the state government, Tulsi Chanria Foundation and other Development Agencies, the Council purchased and took delivery of an ambulance, a Hilux Jeep, 13 motorcycles and 12 giant power generating sets, all these to strengthen the health delivery system in the local government area.”
Dr. Mgban said that in the area of Maternal Newborn Child and Immunization, using Vitamin ‘A’ as a key target indicator, during the 2011 first round immunization, 98 per cent success was recorded while and during he second round 2011 in December 2011, the council recorded 104 percent success.
Accordingly, he said, in June 2012 immunization exercise, 107 percent success was recorded when a total of 37,043 children were immunized. Also to the credit of the council, a Task Force Team for the purpose of enhancing immunization activities had since been inaugurated. Regrettably, he said, the failure to achieve the target in regard to pregnant women is due to the fact that most of them live in Riverine and hard-to-reach areas, thereby recording only 48 per cent while 4,663 children were immunized out of a projected target of 9,638.
However, he said, the council in the area of infrastructural development in addition to existing primary health care facilities in each of the 11 council wards, the council has completed three new health centres in Ayughasa, Ekukunela and Akorofono while work at Nde 3 Corners health centre is on-going.  Also, he added, that a drugs store has also been renovated in the Primary health care centre,Ikom and Eight solar panels repaired for the enhancement of government free medical health scheme.
Meanwhile in other to compliment all these efforts and achievements, the council in collaboration with Tulsi Chanria and the state government employed a resident doctor, trained 96 chews of save motherhood and midwifery skills at School of Midwifery Ogoja and employed 76 community health workers.  The council during the period under review has established 32 new health posts bringing the total of such health facilities to 60.
The council Chairman, never pretended that inspite of the modest achievements recorded by the council, said it is faced with certain constrains against the total realization of the Free Health Scheme and called on the state government to assist in the areas of authorizing the recruitment of more labour and security staff, pharmacist and laboratory technicians, provide diagnostic Re-agents in the laboratory facilities, provide functional bore-holes and power plants or electricity in all health facilities, provide Ikom with a General Hospital as well as provide access roads and speed boats to enhance the provisions of free medical services and immunization hard-to-reach, and Riverine areas.
Addressing the over 1,000 mothers with their babies, the Deputy Governor, Barrister Efiok Cobham, who represented the Governor Senator Liyel Imoke, said  “government will continue to mobilize resources to sustain the maternal newborn and child week celebration in the state.”
He expressed supports so far received from Development agencies and assured them that government will continue to complement their efforts towards the sustainability of the exercise.  He announced a donation of a helix van to the council to support all health centres in the state to drive the maternal newborn and child week.
He warned mothers to refrain from going to private birth attendants and churches to give birth when there are so many health facilities provided by the state government and the treatments are free.
The Governor commended the development agencies especially UNICEF for all their supports and sued for more.
In his goodwill message, the UNICEF’s Assistant Representative Mr. Charles Nzuki, who was represented by Mrs. Mureen Zobi Okolo,  commended the state government for the massive flag-off campaign for the Maternal Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW) in the state.
Unicef, he said, is particularly pleased with the Maternal, Newborn Child Health Week innovation, which was endorsed three years ago by the National Council for Health (NCH) at Asaba, aimed at delivering in an integrated manner, proven high impact maternal, newborn and child interventions, twice annually.
Unicef, he added, is delighted by the high level of commitment shown by Chief Executives and policy makers at all levels of government in the delivery of better health outcomes for children and women in Nigeria.  In the past three years, (MNCHWs) has been a platform through which millions of children, mothers and pregnant women have received life-saving interventions for the improvement of the health status of women and children in the country towards the achievement of Health MDGs 4,5, and 6.
Accordingly, he said, “the overall goal of the MNCHW is pivoted on providing universal access to preventive and promotive care to every woman of child bearing age as well as every newborn baby and all children under-five during the exercise in health facilities and communities through outreach services.”
This campaign no doubt provides a robust platform to aggressively deliver high impact and cost effective interventions to a very large population in a short space of time with concomitant results.  UNICEF and WHO as development partners remain committed to this campaign, adding that “these campaigns do not replace the routine immunization activities, aimed at increasing the coverage and ensure that none of our children are missed.”
In her own remarks, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Angela Oyo-Ita, reminded the mothers that the state government has not cancel the free medical treatment for mothers and their babies.
She urged mothers to make use of the free medical services in all the health facilities in the state, adding that we will defeat the purpose of this event if mothers do not get the services free.  She warned health workers to desist from collecting money, adding that “quality service will pay you.  Please let us stop these shabby businesses and give mothers free health services as directed by the state government.”
In their remarks, some of the mothers interviewed at the ceremony expressed satisfaction on the programme. They wished it will be a monthly event so as to carry all mothers along especially those who have not embraced the programme.
In her remarks, Mrs. Elizabeth Tawey (28) said that she is happy to have brought her baby to witness the immunization exercise in the council.  Mrs. Cecilia Felix (22) a mother of two children called on the state government to offer free education to their babies to compliment the immunization efforts.  Mrs. Monica Esom (18) years, said that she is extremely happy bringing her baby for the immunization.  Immunization has made my babies to be free from contacting diseases.
Earlier, the Director of Public Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. John Odok, said the Ikom Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week is the last phase of the exercise in the state.
He said that over 30,000 children were immunized in the state, involving 2,300 health workers all over the state, adding that 600,000 children were yet to be reached.
The highlight of the event was the welcome song rendered by mothers and the distribution of gifts to mothers and their babies.

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