Sanniquellie, Nimba County – A group of diaspora Liberians who are natives of Nimba County have launched a campaign to augment the effort of County Health Team to ensure the COVID-19 Vaccines reach people living in the remotest parts of the county.
By Festus G. Frazer with Journalists for Human Rights
Nimba, the second most populous county in Liberia, received several doses of the COVID-19 Vaccines, beginning with the AstraZeneca and followed by the Johnson & Johnson. Since then, more than 9,000 residents of the county have taken the J&J, according to the County Health Officer, Dr. Nettie Joe in a rough estimate back in September.
The county, the largest in size, should have had several vaccination sites spread across each of the health district, but the bad road network has left most of these areas inaccessible; leading to little or no awareness about the importance of the vaccines.
However, the hurdle is being addressed, thanks to the intervention of the group, “Diaspora Nimbaians Fighting Covid-19 in Nimba County’. With support from the group, whose members are predominantly based in the United States, a team of social mobilizers, comprising of Nursing students from the Nimba County University College, was sent under the supervision of the county health team to create massive awareness in these communities and encourage people to get vaccinated.
The group donated 40 bags (25kg) of rice to the Nimba County Health Team as a ‘pat on the back’ to carry-on with the vaccination process.
The head of the group, Miss Daiba Tozay who is based in the United States of America, speaking during the commissioning the 15 social mobilizers, revealed that the group is procuring six Oxygen concentrator machines to be distributed to the six health districts in Nimba county.
During the road trip, the team leader, Cecilia Korto, told reporters that most of the communities have no temporary centers for vaccination. She said the team received warm reception from the residents.
“We were surprised at the way the people welcomed us in their towns. We started the campaign from Sanniquellie Mah Health district from September 15, 2021 and ended in Tappita Health District today-five days in total,” she said.
“Our strategy was to talk to the community dwellers and explain the health tips about the vaccines and the benefits, including the raffle draw that will be carried on by the Diaspora Nimbaians in November for those who will take the vaccines”, Miss Korto explained.
Prior to the tour, residents had little or no information on the vaccines. They were likely to snub the process. But with the massive awareness in the villages and towns, they have expressed their willingness to take the vaccine, the leader said.
“when we told them, especially those in Zoegeh and Saclepea Mah health districts, that the messages were from their children, they agreed that their children in white-man-land-would never bring anything evil upon them. They willingly told us that when they vaccines reach them, they will get vaccinated.”
During the launch of the roll out, we desginated 45 out of the 75 health facilities for the roll out. But following the roll out, each of the 75 facilities now has a permanent site”, Dr. Joe told told reporters in Sanniquellie.
The County Health Officer Dr. Nettie Joe has lauded the team for ‘extraordinary job’ and said that the report from the team in the field is really helping her work.
“We depend on the Social Mobilizers and Risk Communication teams to give us credible information, and the report that I am getting from the university students is helping us to make informed decisions.”
Dr. Joe said the team’s intervention will be pivotal to the county’s vaccination drive which is expected to end in December this year. She called on privileged citizens of the county to follow footstep of the diaspora Nimbaians.
“Remember, the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 Vaccines will expire on December 1, 2021. So, what we are asking our people to do is to act like the Diaspora Nimbaians in helping the county team to spread the health messages about the vaccines. As of September 13, almost 9000 persons have taken the J&J Covid-19 vaccines. We are working to compile the number from September 13 up to press time. But mind you, we still have much more to do.”
Nimba was one of the hardly hit counties during the early days of the outbreak. As of September 28, 2021, the county has registered 183 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak, and out of the total, 33 deaths and 150 recoveries, according to data released by the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and the Ministry of Health.
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through the Mobilizing Media in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with FrontPage Africa.