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Closing the Immunity Gap

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Author: Craig Burgess, Senior Technical Officer, JSI, May 4 2016 - Every child has the right to health and should have the opportunity to survive, develop, and reach their potential in the context of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Who can disagree?

Every child has the right to be immunized, but closing the immunity gap needs everyone to go beyond a) technical 'group think' comfort zone rhetoric; b) dusty plans lying in bottom drawers; and c) attending national and global health cocktail parties. We all need to better understand the reasons for inertia to addressing immunization inequities and actually reach marginalized populations with what they need. Marginalized communities have the greatest disease burden and least resources to respond to infection.

An immunity gap is everybody’s business: it leads to increased disease incidence, outbreaks and deaths from preventable disease – all of which have no respect for borders.

Next Generation Immunization Supply Chains: Rethinking the Denominator and the Dose

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Author: Chris Wright, JSI Practice Lead, Data Visibility & Use, May 4 2016 - Today [April 25] is Innovation Day during World Immunization Week, and there are a lot of innovative ideas out there to reach every child. But innovation doesn’t always require radical new ideas. Sometimes it simply means challenging traditional approaches based on current information. For immunization supply chains, that means changing over 40 years of custom to embrace state-of-the-art commercial best practices.

Imagine a scenario in which a global soft drink company launches a new marketing strategy; it wants 100% of young consumers under five years old in every city, town and village around the world to drink 200 ml of its product at least once a year. The company launches a global advertising campaign and free give-away of their product to the targeted consumers to meet their goal. Imagine the company then produces sufficient quantities, and packages it in 2-litre bottles for supply chain convenience. Calculating 200 ml per person and 100 percent coverage, millions of bottles are distributed to tens of thousands of shops and community marketers based on census figures and catchment area estimates down to the last kilometer. Ethical considerations and community acceptance aside, it would never work from a supply chain perspective, because the population figures and the coverage assumptions are too inaccurate. But that is precisely the model that immunization supply chains have been following for the last 40 years.

"Gifts and lifts": one reason girls drop out of school in South Sudan

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Author: Manyang David Mayar, April 26 2016 - In South Sudan, it’s not uncommon for older men to offer girls and young women gifts of transport, mobile phones and cash with the expectation of them starting a sexual relationship in return. This sometimes has disastrous consequences for their education.

Rose, aged 16, was a committed pupil before a relationship with an older man caused her to drop out of school. On her way to school one morning she arrived at the bus station and found there was no transport. She was stuck and didn’t know what to do when a man in his thirties cruised by in his car and offered her lift. Desperate not to be late for her morning lessons, she accepted the lift and jumped into the man’s car.

Rose, now 29, told her story to Florence Michael, a producer of Our School, a radio programme which discusses the importance of girls completing their education in South Sudan.

“On our way, he asked for my name, I introduced myself then he did the same,” Rose said. “Reaching school he asked me if we could meet again.”

Over the next few months, the man continued to give Rose lifts to school. He didn’t stop there. He gave her a whole variety of gifts, including money and a mobile phone. Not long after that, the man asked for something else.

He asked Rose to be his girlfriend. A few months later she was pregnant.

Lao PDR's Polio Outbreak and Response: C4D efforts in reaching the last child

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The Complete Background to Lao PDR’s Polio Outbreak and Response

Dispel rumours to fix immunisation's image problems

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Author: Inga Vesper, April 18 2016. This blog is cross-posted from the SciDev.Net website, linked below. Vaccine programmes can trigger fears of conspiracies and oppression. It's time they got more collaborative.

The world is becoming more crowded. People flock to cities, millions flee smouldering conflicts in refugee camps, and some countries experience population booms.

As people's space for living, building and farming shrinks, the challenges go beyond providing shelter, infrastructure and job opportunities: health becomes a serious issue as diseases spread quickly in cramped conditions.

Vaccines against some common and contagious diseases are widely available, meant to be making epidemic prevention easy. But fear of vaccinations is a real problem.

Vaccine resistance

A true partnership

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Author: Jackie Christie, April 20 2016 - Working together, BBC Media Action and the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) have transformed a shabby studio into a HD home for KBC’s flagship politics programme, Beyond the Headlines.

I think it’s fair to say that the development community has a tendency to overuse the ‘p’ word. I’ve seen it used to describe a variety of relationships, however slender or remote. My experience of working with Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) over the last few years would suggest that occasionally, these relationships earn the description of a true partnership.

We had worked with KBC for two seasons, when they broadcast BBC Sema Kenya, a groundbreaking political debate show which helped people ask their leaders questions, and in doing so, help hold them to account. During this collaboration, staff at KBC benefited from exposure to new production techniques, among them, moderating debates and developing compelling scripts.

Both sides felt that if our capacity strengthening was to come to fruition KBC should produce their own show. One year later, and without fanfare, the first show Beyond the Headlines aired on KBC Channel 1.

My "TAFIGAWALO" Experience!

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Author: George O. Ndukwu, April 20 2016 - I had a wonderful experience supervising the scripting and production of "TAFIGAWALO" (Working towards change) for the Population Media Center[PMC]/ Nigeria. A 78 Episode Pidgin English Serial Radio Drama based on Positive Role Modeling/Sabido Methodology and set in a fictionalized country named Saboba Republic, it focused on a large geographic area and different demographics.

Story lines ran through four settings representative of geopolitical zones in Nigeria, with cities like Asozuma[Capital City] in the north, SumtikpoTown in North-Central, Ojeda Community in South-West and Atako village in the South-South of the Republic.

Tafigawalo thematically focused on and tackled controversial attitudes toward Secondary education of girls, Adolescent Reproductive Health & disposition towards sex education, HIV/AIDS, Gender based violence, family planning & Safe Motherhood, and Nutrition by showing different scenarios in the lives of positive, negative and transitional characters.

The drama does not preach any point of view but presents varying views to listeners through entertainment-education. At the end, some characters would have been punished or rewarded.

Typical of the Sabido style drama, there were positive, negative and transitional characters who in the subsequent episodes inter-played as they related issues and challenges to their audiences.

Meaty issues on the radio

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Author: Ehizogie Ohiani, April 8 2016 - A meal without meat is as good as no meal for most people in Benue State, North Central Nigeria. Considering its importance, one would expect that hygiene surrounding the preparation and sale of meat would be held in the same high esteem. This is not the case.

A murky mix of flies, blood, water, muddy walkways, sweaty bodies and smoke combine to make the abattoirs in the marketplaces of Benue State a perfect breeding ground for disease. Lack of adequate sanitation knowledge, lack of enforcement by market associations and insufficient supervision of animal slaughter by qualified veterinary officers conspire to create major health challenges for communities.

I was at Harvest FM, a local radio station in Benue State, to train producers. We were brainstorming ways we could use their popular early morning show “Good Morning Benue” to help serve the public interest. For the producers, an obvious choice was to discuss hygiene in abattoirs.

The programme explored a number of problems in the state’s local abattoirs: an absence of toilet and handwashing facilities and the practice of washing meat with untreated water sourced direct from the River Benue.

Identifying dirty meat

Listeners were invited to question the studio guest - a respected local veterinary doctor. One listener fielded a particularly challenging question:

Tackling cholera through radio in Kenya

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Author: David Njuguna, April 6 2016 - Last year Kenya was facing a devastating cholera outbreak. It started in the capital, Nairobi and by June 2015, a total of 4,937 cases and 97 deaths had been reported nationally.

According to public health officials, the spread of cholera in Nairobi particularly affected people living in slums. Frequent bursting of sewer lines, poor sanitation facilities and heavy rains played a major role in the outbreak. Poor hygiene practices – such as not washing hands before eating or preparing food – also contributed to the spread of disease. The outbreak eventually petered out, but the environment and practices that contributed to the spread of cholera continue to pose a threat.

In a quiet courtyard, away from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi’s Kawangware slum, a community radio station was planning a response.

Local radio

Mtaani Radio, run by a team of volunteers, was a hive of activity when I walked into their studio last week. They were recording content for ‘WASH Wednesdays’, a show looking at ways listeners can improve their health and hygiene. The show, reaching over 100,000 people in the Kawangware community, was just about to start.

“It’s time we the people of Kawangware demanded our constitutional right of access to clean water from the government. This will go a long way in reducing outbreaks of water-borne diseases” said Kamadi, editor and presenter of the show.

One year on from the Nigerian elections: "no violence, just vote"

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Author: Osebi Adams, April 6 2016 - This time last year, I wasn’t sure what the future held for me as a young Nigerian. Not because I was worried about a job or a family since I was already working as a researcher for BBC Media Action and planning a wedding with my fiancée. Instead, with elections looming, I was worried about my country. In 2011, over 800 people were in killed in post-election violence. In 2015, many people feared even more violence and death - and some even talked about the possible breakup of Nigeria.

I remember my mother calling one morning suggesting I move from Abuja, the capital, to her home town in the south which she believed would be safer until the elections were over.


But with BBC Media Action I was helping work towards peaceful elections with the active participation of groups usually marginalised from the voting process: women, youth and people living with disabilities.

No violence, just vote

One of the ways we contributed was by producing radio and TV public service announcements (PSAs) in English, Pidgin, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. These PSAs, ‘no violence - just vote’ and ‘turn up and vote’ encouraged young people to vote peacefully. They were broadcast across Nigeria in the months leading up to the elections, were posted on social media, and even played before movies at cinemas in some big towns.

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