14 Dec CÔTE D’IVOIRE: Allies call for government action and increase community demand for health services
Article posted on December 15, 2016.
AGIS, Ministry of Health, and Pediatric Society commemorate the country’s first World Pneumonia Day with public events and march
This story is part of the 2016 round-up of World Pneumonia Day. Events and campaigns were held in many countries around the world to remind policymakers that pneumonia is still a silent killer taking the lives of many young children. Child health advocates and members of the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia organized various advocacy strategies to shine light on the need to continue the fight to bring an end to this disease.
After three years of grassroots work, the NGO of Association Graine d’Ivoire et Santé (AGIS) joined forces with partners in 2016 to raise awareness on Côte d’Ivoire’s second biggest killer among children under 5 years of age: pneumonia.
AGIS has been working in the area of medical humanitarian aid with a focus on acute respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, among children in sub-Saharan Africa. The collaboration between AGIS, the Ministry of Health, and the Société Ivoirienne de Pédiatrie (SIP) marked the first time that key stakeholders in Côte d’Ivoire rallied together to advocate for pneumonia prevention and treatment.
On November 10, a press conference was held under the patronage of Mrs. Raymonde Goudou-Coffie, Minister of Health and Public Hygiene. Approximately 30 journalists gathered to learn about child pneumonia. By educating these journalists, who can reach populations across Côte d’Ivoire, AGIS had the opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of a disease that most mothers don’t know how to recognize.
The conference also highlighted how concerted efforts can strengthen the fight against the scourge by allocating additional resources to health education, prevention, immunization, and treatment.
“This event made public that several like-minded partners want to work together to increase access to health for children to prevent and treat pneumonia,” says AGIS president Aboubaker Sylla.
Presenters used this opportunity to announce the country’s first-ever march for November 12, World Pneumonia Day. At dawn, around 100 sportsmen and women hit the streets wearing matching t-shirts. This gathering brought together many like-minded stakeholders interested in improving child health, and it expressed a demand for action from the government.
The march was arranged by Sport Dans Ma Vie (Sports in My Life), an association that organizes physical fitness activities, in partnership with other groups working to better the lives of children. Among them was Partage, an NGO that offers sponsorship programs to help children living in disadvantaged settings, and Cœur d’art, an NGO with a focus on reducing poverty among children through charity and art. The classical high school of Abidjan also joined the efforts; as well as Foundation Orange, a consulting firm focused on improving health and education.
Building a network of organizations like these around a common vision provides the platform to mobilize efforts at the individual, community, and policy levels. While it took place over the weekend, the march benefitted from wide media coverage—including the government’s press and television station.
Following the march, AGIS held a screening and counseling session for community outreach. One of the Ministry of Health’s brand new mobile units saw approximately 200 mothers and children from the closest popular neighborhood, Blockhauss in Cocody. This effort helped to increase awareness of health services among families, with the hope to increase the demand for them in the future.
“The first multi-partner World Pneumonia Day in Côte d’Ivoire was a success,” says Sylla. “It illustrated the capacity to enlist allies in the ongoing social mobilization efforts, and it put on the agenda a neglected disease and offered the opportunity to educate the general public.”