Polio-Free Chad: UNICEF Quarterly Newsletter on the Polio Eradication Initiative in Chad [Jan. 2013]

Polio Eradication Initiative in Chad: A Goal Within Reach
Publication Date
January 30, 2013

From the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Chad Country Office, this newsletter includes the following topics. Selected communication-related elements are highlighted below:

  • Independent Monitoring Board: Big Reduction in Polio Cases in 2012 - In 2011, 132 Chadian children were paralysed by wild polio, whereas there were just 5 in 2012. In this effort, "[r]eaching the sizeable nomadic population has been vital....The Programme has sought the help of these communities to develop strategies to find and vaccinate their children. This innovative work, which has also involved the veterinary sector, and the contacting of nomadic leaders by mobile telephone, is paying dividends in Chad and could be replicated elsewhere in the Global Programme." Also, while vaccine refusal "has barely been an issue in Chad", community engagement remains key, as the percentage of children missed for "social reasons" is still high. Caregivers' poor awareness of vaccination campaigns is now rated as high-risk by UNICEF, even though all communications personnel are in the field.
  • Polio Situation in Chad: Progress toward Polio Eradication - "Program improvements during 2012 follow the investment of considerable resources beginning in 2011 by the Chad Ministry of Health and GPEI [Global Polio Eradication Initiative] partners to increase field personnel, training, planning, attention to nomadic and other chronically missed populations, supervision, and political oversight."
  • Immunization: Anatomy of a Vaccination Campaign - "With support from UNICEF, Chad's Expanded Immunization Programme is seeking to reach more and more children. Volunteer workers...are critical in the campaign....UNICEF C4D [communication for development] employs a mix of social mobilization, advocacy and behaviour and social change activities to involve local authorities and people to make simple changes in their daily lives....Radio is also essential to these efforts, reaching far more people than any other media in Chad. Broadcasts and advertisements 'get people ready for the vaccination campaigns...' Women's groups also provide crucial support, which is tapped through the Information and Liaison Unit of Chad Women's Associations (CELIAF)....Its leader...regularly brings together women leaders to discuss and promote awareness messages....[T]he [Expanded Immunization] programme is using a polio vaccine drive as a springboard with an eye to covering other diseases such as measles, meningitis and cholera."
  • Polio Eradication Initiative in Chad: Addressing Challenges - "Community participation is a key factor in raising polio immunization coverage. Creating awareness of, and public demand for the benefits of polio immunization is an essential component of an active immunization programme. However, it is also important to ensure that demand can be reliably met....The country continues to record reduction in trends of missed children which confirms the strong commitment of political and health leaders, religious and traditional leaders involved in micro-planning, supervision, social mobilization and advocacy..."
  • Awareness: Mia Farrow Promotes Polio Vaccination - "In 2012, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow visited Chad to launch a massive polio immunization campaign and to raise awareness of the importance of ending polio transmission once and for all. '...[A] lot of amazing mothers are galvanized to go out and tell their friends they've got to have their children vaccinated, so I think the consciousness is rising,' she said."
  • Communication and Social Mobilization: UNICEF Communication Efforts in 2012 - "The UNICEF Polio Unit has increased the collaboration with CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] Atlanta [Georgia, United States] for the collection of social data and communication among the nomads. The Unit has maintained and strengthened the partnership with NGOs [non-governmental organisations] and Associations, religious groups, schools through social mobilization and outreach activities. An emergency plan in 2013 to eradicate polio has been developed by the Ministry of Health with the support of key partners. UNICEF is committed to support the strategic communication through advocacy, social mobilization, communication for behavior and social change."
  • N'djamena - Immunization Campaign: Overcoming Resistance to Vaccine - In November, 2012, "[p]opular Chadian musicians rallied in the fight against polio with a open air, free admission concert to raise awareness in N'Djamena. They captured the attention of thousands people not only through their music but also by expressing strong messages about the importance of vaccinating children against polio. The popular musicians went door to door talking to and convincing parents who refused to get their children vaccinated....More than 250 youth mobilizers from the Scouts Movement and the National Council of Youth have also been involved during the campaign to support the community-based social mobilization activities before, during and after the campaign."
  • Immunization: Reaching Nomadic Groups in Chad - "In Chad, the mobility and the dispersion of mobile livestock owners lead to difficulties in reaching them with health services as well as with information and education....The Chadian Ministries of Health and of Livestock Production - hosting the veterinary services, together with GPEI Partners, NGOs and the nomadic communities organized joint human and livestock vaccination campaigns in this region where nomadic groups are seasonally located."
  • Meet Frontline Workers - "Taliba is a Chadian theatre group who has relentlessly been rallying to raise population's awareness to the importance of vaccinating children against Polio in their home town of Moundou. The group produced an eight-act piece entitled 'Poliomyélite', which depicts the efforts of a vaccination team supervisor who explains to parents who still refuse to have their children vaccinated the importance of protecting them from the devastating illness."
  • Polio Eradication: Chadian Stars Join the Fight - "Recently, a group of Chadian celebrities joined forces with UNICEF and the Chadian government to reinforce social mobilisation and public awareness activities to achieve higher vaccination coverage during polio campaigns....Parents and caregivers from all walks of life were given the opportunity to enter in dialogue with the artists during community radio talk shows and field visits, and voiced concerns they had had over the vaccines....More types of activities are planned for 2013. Amongst them are television appearances, mediatized football exhibition matches and awareness-raising activities with school children and parents. Open air concerts, community radio outreach and further activities outside urban hubs are planned..."

Emails from Bruno Maes and Lalaina Fatratra Andriamasinoro to The Communication Initiative on January 30 2013; and email from Gianluca Flamigni to The Communication Initiative on February 13 2013.

See video

The Communication Initiative Network and Partnership convenes the communication and media for development, social and behavioural change community to share knowledge, connect, debate relevant issues, and critically review each other's work in order to advance effective development action across and between all development priorities. Contact Warren