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IGNOU-UNICEF sensitise scribes in Madhya Pradesh

4 August, 2011

The pilot project of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) with UNICEF which was launched one month ago, has reached its second stage to help increase media discourse on Routine Immunisation to media persons in Jabalpur.

A twenty member team comprising of national, state and district level media visited Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. The visit, part of second phase of the UNICEF and IGNOU partnership, raised awareness among media on the low rate of Routine Immunisation and high infant mortality in Madhya Pradesh. At present only forty percent of children get immunised which contributes to the high infant mortality in the state.

The journalists got a first-hand experience about the micro-planning involved in the handling cold chain equipment that maintains vaccines at right temperatures. “The vaccine stores make use of generators in case of power failure to protect the vaccines stored,” explained Dr. Gagan Gupta, Health Specialist, UNICEF and Madhya Pradesh, who was accompanying the media team.

The media persons were also taught small drills for checking the expiry dates of the vaccines through the vaccine vial monitor.

“As a media person, we can share such simple yet effective knowledge with parents and especially mothers,” shared Shivani , one of the participants.

Saroj Paraste, who conveys local news through mobiles from the remote Kundam block, found the visit to village Sarrai, 30 km from Jabalpur very informative. “Our village Accredited Social health Activist (ASHA) personally visits us and ensures that mothers and children come to the Anganwadi centre on the last Tuesday of the month for vaccination.”

The field visit to Jabalpur, one of IGNOU’s regional centres followed the initial media engagement held through videoconference in Delhi.

Over eighty media professionals from Delhi, Bhopal and Jabalpur had exchanged views on the subject of low routine immunisation. Under the IGNOU-UNICEF partnership, IGNOU is providing its strong videoconferencing network to reach out to national, state and district media in strategic and interactive workshops.

“Every day around 5000 children under the age of five die in India. A large number of these deaths are due to preventable causes. Vaccine preventable diseases are one of the major causes of morbidity, disability and mortality among children in many states of India,” informed Tania Goldner, Chief of UNICEF Field Office for Madhya Pradesh It is here that we need media’s support to convey the need of immunisation as well as help to motivate parents for immunising their children,” added Ms. Goldner.

S.N Singh, Director of Journalism and New Media Studies added, “We plan to reach out to media and the wider public in remote regions of the country through special programmes on Routine Immunisation aired on IGNOU’s Gyan Vani radio and Gyan Darshan television channels”.

The field visit in Jabalpur started off by visiting the state-of-the art special care newborn units, set-up by NRHM and UNICEF for saving newborns as well as the cold chain vaccine storage units in the district. The ASHAs and ANM (Auxillary Nurse Midwives) are the connecting link in the last mile for service delivery under the Government’s National Rural Health Mission Programme.

The field visit ended with a visit to the Special Care Newborn Unit (SCNU) at Lady Elgin Hospital. Here the new-borns are provided special medical care to fight diseases. Infants receive their first birth dose of immunization (BCG, OPV and Hepatitis-B) in these units.

“Currently we have 28 (SCNU), though the sanction for all the fifty districts of the state has been obtained. It is a concrete step towards reducing the high neonatal and infant mortality in the state” informs Dr. Gagan Gupta.

UNICEF is working along with the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh to scale up the SCNU facilities throughout the state.