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NOA, UNICEF engage religious leaders on behavioural change in communities

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UNICEFThe National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), have urged religious leaders in the country lead social change processes in their various communities through religious teaching and practices by creating an open communication and support atmosphere about development issues.

The Director General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari disclosed this at in Abuja at a one-day  National  Forum with Religious  Leaders  on faith for Social and Behaviour Change Initiative which was developed by UNICEF.

According to Dr Abari, “I am highly  delighted  with the actualization of this important  forum with religious leaders  which was  conceived  in recognition  of the  crucial role  faith communities have to play  in ensuring  that  our citizens,  especially  children  and  women  have good  health  and develop to their full potential.

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“The Faith  for  Social and Behaviour Change Initiative  is  the brain  child of UNICEF.  It  is a strategy  initiative  that priorities  the potential  of religious  leaders  to lead social change processes through religious  teachings  and  practices,  by creating  an open communication  and support  atmosphere  about  development  initiatives  such as exclusive  breastfeeding , disease  prevention,  immunization,  hand washing,  nutrition,  latrine use,  personal hygiene,  education,  child protection  and health-seeking behaviours”.

Dr Abari said the UNICEF and NOA starting working together since 2004 when the controversy over the acceptance of polio vaccine became a matter of national interest.

“The high level  rejection  in the North  due to mistrust  on the  safety  of the vaccine drew government’s  quick  intervention , working  through  critical  stakeholders . As  a result , NOA became the Agency for  changing the narratives.  The paradigm shift happened  not long  after,  as a result of the collaboration  with  critical  stakeholders  such as UNICEF,  that funded  many of the campaigns”, he added.

Furthermore, the NOA DG said: “Remarkably,  the partnership  between the two  organizations  blossomed expeditiously  into formulation  and  implementation  of diverse programmes  and  activities.

“These programmes  have enormously  improved  the  wellbeing  of  Nigerians , especially  children  and  women in areas  such as Routine  Immunization,  Education  especially  for the Girl Child,  Nutrition  and Chis protection,  Material,  Newborn and Child health,  Female  Genital  Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), among  others”.

“Other strategies  as would be discussed  here today are  expected  to create  a larger  scope and reach  towards  achieving  the goal  of  increasing  demand  for  services that will  positively  impact  on the health  status  of the  communities. 

“Furthermore,  considering  the relevance of data  gathering,  monitoring  and evaluation  in any  programme implementation,  we wish to state that  the community  engagement  processes will be closely  monitored,  documented  and  reported  to the NOA offices  at the LGA,  State  and  National  Headquarters,  to ensure  that  set objectives  are achieved.  This  should  form  a critical  part  of our discourse  today.

“The goal of this National  Forum  therefore,  is to stimulate  a national  discourse by religious  leaders  on the Faith  for  Social  and Behaviour Change Initiative  and to enlist  the commitment of all our spiritual  leaders  to promote  child  survival  and development  issues  through your teachings  and practices,  using  the Faith for  Life  Manuals . In the course  of this Forum,  we would be depending  on your  capabilities  to develop  a one-year Plan of Action for taking  the initiative  forward in your various Zones /States/LGAs”.

He said the Agency was committed  to  expanding  and  sustaining  its scope  of community  engagement  for citizens  especially  children  and women, which  is specific around  upscaling desirable  Knowledge,  Attitude and  Practice ( KAP)  in the communities, through interface  with  critical  stakeholders  using  community  based  platforms.

The post NOA, UNICEF engage religious leaders on behavioural change in communities appeared first on Tribune.

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