Ni – All Babies Are Equal Initiative end stakeholders meeting, pledges to align its programs with FG plans, priorities

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By Joy Odor

The New Incentives (NI) – All Babies Are Equal Initiative has held a joint stakeholders with Katsina, Jigawa, and Zamfara States aimed to reduce child mortality through cost-effective and evidence-based health interventions

At the end of the meeting, they agreed to continue to align its programs with Federal, State laws and policies, including routine immunization plans and priorities.

They made this known in a communique issued after its joint stakeholders meeting in Kano State on Thursday.

According to them, Immunization is one of the most effective public health interventions, saving 2 to 3 million lives yearly (WHO) and there is evidence that suggests a 27 percentage points increase in the likelihood that children would be fully immunized by a conditional cash transfers for routine immunization program (NI-ABAE RCT Impact Assessment 2017-2020).

They Stakeholders also hoped to provide New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative the necessary support to expand the conditional cash transfers for routine immunization programs to more LGAs and health facilities

Thy pledged to continue to support demand creation and other components of routine immunization in the three States and at the national level.

The Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development stressed it’s commitment to support for the Conditional Cash Transfers for Routine Immunization program, assuring that the MoU between Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development and New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal initiative will be signed in due course.

The communique read:……

New- ALL BABIES ARE EQUAL INITIATIVE JOINT STATES STAKEHOLDERS MEETING, CO-HOSTED BY THE KATSINA SPHCA, JIGAWA SPHCDA AND ZAMFARA SPHCB, WHICH HELD ON THURSDAY 20TH MAY 2021 AT THE TAHIR GUEST PALACE KANO STATE.

INTRODUCTION
1. Organization and Program: New Incentives (NI) is an international non-government organization that aims to reduce child mortality through cost-effective and evidence-based health interventions.

In Nigeria, the organization operates as the All Babies Are Equal Initiative and implements a conditional cash transfers (CCT) for routine immunization (CCTs for RI) program.

2. Program Components: The flagship CCTs for RI program operated by ABAE disburses cash incentives to caregivers conditional on infants receiving four vaccines: BCG (against tuberculosis), PENTA (against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b), PCV (against pneumococcal disease), and MCV (against measles).

These vaccinations are part of the routine schedule for infant immunizations in Nigeria and are provided at no cost to the caregiver through government-supported clinics.

Upon confirmation of their infant receiving a vaccine, the caregiver receives ₦500 for the first four routine immunization visits and ₦2,000 for the fifth visit.

The cash transfers compensate for transport, lost trading income, and waiting time while creating behavioural change through awareness.

3. Evidence of Impact: The CCTs for RI Program has been implemented in states of Katsina, Zamfara, and Jigawa since 2017.

To date, the program has enrolled over 300,000 infants whose caregivers have received over 900 million naira in conditional cash transfers.

An independent impact assessment of NI-ABAE’s CCTs for RI program (2017 – 2020) found that the program increases the likelihood that children would be fully immunized by 27 percentage points, and increases rates of individual vaccinations by 14 to 21 percentage points.

Beyond vaccination, the assessment found that the program contributed to improved knowledge about vaccination among caregivers in the catchment areas served by the program.

4. Partnerships: The New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative (NI-ABAE) works closely with the State Ministries of Health (SMOHs), State Primary Health Care Development Agencies (SPHCDAs), and State Emergency Routine Immunization Coordination Centers (SERICCs) in Katsina, Zamfara and Jigawa States.

These partnerships help to improve demand generation for routine immunization and other supply-side supports for the routine immunization system.

5. Future Plans: New Incentives was named a GiveWell Top Charity in November 2020. Based on GiveWell’s recommendation, NI-ABAE has been awarded an additional $16.8 million of funding over the next 3 years to reach over 600,000 caregivers and their infants through more than 2,700,000 conditional cash transfers in at least 17 LGAs of Jigawa, Katsina, and Zamfara States.

ABOUT MEETING

1. A meeting of stakeholders of NI-ABAE program in Katsina, Jigawa and Zamfara States was held on 20th May, 2021 at the Tahir Guest Palace, Kano State.

A total of 22 participants were in attendance including Commissioners of Health from Katsina and Zamfara States, Representative of the Permanent Secretary of SMOH Jigawa State, NPHCDA North West Zonal Cold Chain Officer, Directors of Health Planning, Research and Statistics of the SMOHs, Executive Secretaries of SPHCDAs, Primary Health Care Directors of SPHCDAs, and Program Managers of SERICCs in Jigawa, Katsina and Zamfara States.

Others include Director of Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development (SFPD), media organizations, NI-ABAE Government Relations Advisors and staff of NI-ABAE

2. The meeting was Chaired by the Commissioner of Health, Katsina State, moderated by the Stakeholder Relations Director of NI-ABAE and compered by the PRO Katsina SPHCA.

3. The objectives of the meeting were to provide programmatic update and expansion plans to stakeholders, obtain their buy-in, and agree on joint-mission strategies to resolve the mixed levels of support for the program at the national level.

4. The meeting received updates on the program with ongoing and future expansion plans from the Deputy Operations Coordinator of NI-ABAE and the NI-ABAE Stakeholder Relations Goals with how stakeholders can support from the National Coordinator of NI-ABAE.

The Health Commissioners and Executive Secretaries made presentations that spoke to the meeting agenda while the representative of the SFPD delivered a presentation on the role of traditional institutions. General discussion ensued followed by a resolution and presentation of the communique to the media.

RESOLUTIONS
After extensive deliberations and discussions on the Conditional Cash Transfers for Routine Immunization (CCTs for RI) program of New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative (NI-ABAE) in the three states, the following resolutions were reached;
● The New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative will continue to align its programs with Nigerian Federal and State laws and policies, including routine immunization plans and priorities.

● Immunization is one of the most effective public health interventions, saving 2 to 3 million lives yearly (WHO) and there is evidence that suggests a 27 percentage points increase in the likelihood that children would be fully immunized by a conditional cash transfers for routine immunization program (NI-ABAE RCT Impact Assessment 2017-2020).

● The Stakeholders in Katsina, Jigawa, and Zamfara States will provide New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative the necessary support to expand the conditional cash transfers for routine immunization programs to more LGAs and health facilities

● The New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative will continue to support demand creation and other components of routine immunization in the three States and at the national level.

● Katsina, Jigawa and Zamfara States health authorities agreed to greater ownership of the conditional cash transfers for routine immunization program, confirming that this program is in line with its routine immunisation and public health plans and priorities.

● The Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development reinstated its support for the Conditional Cash Transfers for Routine Immunization program, assuring that the MoU between Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development and New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal initiative will be signed in due course.

● The Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics of the State Ministries of Health committed to support New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation (M&E) through rapid assessment and analysis of DHIS2 data.
● New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative will;
○ Continue to provide transparent and regular updates
○ Support to all stakeholders
○ Support stakeholders on routine immunization, health and social protection
● The Commissioners of Health will
○ Continue to provide the needed support to NI-ABAE programs at all levels.
○ Facilitate meetings between the Governors of their State and NI-ABAE representatives.
○ Encourage the Governors of their States to present the NI-ABAE program gains and successes at the federal level
○ Engage the Governors to speak to the relevant federal health stakeholders to support the NI-ABAE program before the end of 2021.
● The Executive Secretaries will
○ Continue to support the NI-ABAE program at all levels
○ Provide needed guidance to ensure expansion of NI-ABAE program to at least 17 LGAs in Katsina, Jigawa and Zamfara States (with a goal to exceed this target)
○ Ensure adequate vaccine supply and health workers discipline in all health facilities
○ Engage all relevant state actors to ensure successful conditional cash transfers programming
○ Ensure accountability among health workers and correct reporting of vaccine utilization
○ Ensure periodic assessment of the cold chain system, plan preventive maintenance and request improvement to ensure vaccine efficacy.
Signed this 20th day of May 2021 by:
1. Health Commissioner of Katsina SMOH, Engr. Yakubu Nuhu Danja _________________________
2. Health Commissioner of Zamfara SMOH, Alhaji Yahaya Muhammad Kanoma _________________
3. Rep. of the Perm. Secretary of Jigawa SMOH/ ES JSPHCDA, Dr. Kabir Ibrahim _______________

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