By Bukola Bardi

The Ondo State government has celebrated forty women as champions of immunisation and family planning having stuck to the life-saving procedures for a long period of time.

The programme was launched in Ifedore and Odigbo Local Government Areas of the state, with twenty women in each of the council area benefiting from the gift items which included foodstuffs, cash of ten thousand naira, plaques (inscribed with their names and pictures) and other items.

Speaking at the event in Igbaraoke, Ifedore Council area, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Banji Ajaka expressed optimism that the initiative would spur more women to embrace family planning and also present their babies for immunisation regularly.

Dr Ajaka who was represented by the Special Adviser to the Governor, Professor Simi Odimayo restated the commitment of Governor Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa to the wellbeing of mothers and children in Ondo State, using all available strategies.

The commissioner congratulated the champions for their commitment to family planning and immunisation in the bid to keep a healthy family, assuring them that government would regularly come up with programmes and policies that would make life more meaningful for women and children in the state.

He said,“the government is really in love with the people and wants to showcase the love at all times that’s why these women are being appreciated today. The government is not only appreciating the women but making family planning and immunisation commodities available and the teams supported. Family planning will help women to be in good form to take their children for immunisation, so I congratulate the champions and urge them to become advocates of immunisation and family planning in their communities”.

The Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Agency, ODPHCDA, Dr Francis Akanbiemu said the idea of the programme was conceived by the award winning agency to encourage mothers who had shown great commitment to matters of immunisation and family planning being propagated by government to enhance maternal and child health in the state.

Dr Akanbiemu noted, “We tell our mothers, take your children for immunisation, ensure you space your children through family planning, but not all of them take to this, so the government under the leadership of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa considered it worthwhile to reward those mothers who listened to and acted on the government’s advice so that they will serve as role models for others”.

He said even though, the immunisation coverage of the state was currently at over eighty-four percent, the programme, “rewarding the champions” would be held in all the local government areas in the state to ensure one hundred percent coverage of both mothers and children in terms of family planning and immunization”.

“By the time we are done taking this programme round all the eighteen local government areas of Ondo State, our immunisation data must have gone up and also improve service delivery. The champions emerged through rigorous selection processes and we are hopeful that for every ten persons motivated, one thousand other mothers would join the train”.

The Director of Disease Control and Immunisation in the agency, Dr Victor Adefesoye while congratulating the champions stressed the need for other women to embrace family planning so they could avoid unplanned pregnancies which he noted was dangerous to their health while also ensuring that their children do not miss any immunisation schedule.

Also speaking, the Director of Medical Services, ODPHCDA, Dr Paulinus Omode admonished mothers generally to embrace preventive health care system by making sure that their children live in a clean environment, eat good diet and are immunised against child-killer diseases.

In their goodwill messages, representatives of World Health Organisation, WHO, Mrs Modupe Dosumu and that of United Nations Population Fund, UNPF, Mrs Opeyemi Agunbiade commended Ondo State government for the innovation.

Primary Health Care Coordinator in Ifedore Council Area, Dr Adedayo Fayanju described the strategy as a step towards boosting the health of women and children.

A royal father, the Adapogun of Ipogun, Oba Rapheal Ojo expressed delight that the exercise started in his domain especially at this time when economic challenges were compelling families to have only children they could cater for.

Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs Ebunoluwa Charles, and Hajia Mariam Yusuf appreciated Ondo State government for the gesture, promising to be advocates of family planning and immunisation in their various localities.

According to them, “this is one honour we will appreciate in a long time to come, we appreciate the gifts, the foodstuff and other items the government has given us today, we will definitely continue in this line and convince more women to be part of be committed to immunisation and family planning”.

At Odigbo Local Government Area, the ODPHCDA train landed in Ore Town where another set of twenty champions were celebrated.

At the event, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Banji Ajaka also congratulated the lucky mothers for emerging champions of immunisation and family planning and charged them to always key into government’s programmes and policies aimed at improving their child and maternal health.

On his part, the Permanent Secretary, ODPHCDA, Dr Francis Akanbiemu hinted that women who adhere to all medical procedures on maternal and child health would continue to receive motivation from government.

The Ondo State Immunisation Officer, Mrs Comfort Olagundoye while enumerating the criteria used in selecting the champions noted that those considered were found to have completed all immunisation schedules for their children right from birth and also encouraged other women to keep immunisation appointments for them to have healthy children.

Two of the champions from Ore, Mrs Ajoke Ikumawoyi, Deborah Ige Imisioluwa Akintunde also hailed the Ondo State government for the encouragement with a pledge not to renege.

In all, 40 women were decorated as immunisation and family planning champions in both Ifedore and Odigbo Council areas with each of them going home with foodstuff, ten thousand naira cash, plaques and other items.

The event was witnessed by the Director of Public Health, Ondo State Ministry of Health, Dr Stephen Fagbemi, who represented the Permanent Secretary, Dr Niran Ikuomola, top officials of the Ondo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency which include Director Planning, Research and Statistics, Dr Yetunde Olagbuji, Director Medical Services, Dr Paulinus Omode, Director, Health System Development, Dr Olajide, Dr Isreal Adeyemi, Director of Finance and Administration, Mrs Folasade Ale, Dr Isreal Adeyemi, and Director Pharmaceutical Services.

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