Scouts a Driving Force of Social Mobilization
Scouts in South Sudan spearheaded the Social Mobilization Campaign in the last routine Polio Vaccination Organized by the National Ministry of Health in Partnership with the Implementing partners, the National Immunization Days covers the whole country. However, the Scouts participated in Juba the Capital City and also the capital for Jubek State and other States such as Terekeka, Yei, Kapoeta and Torit States respectively. The involvement of Scouts in this important national programme came as a result of the good work, commitment, truthfulness and honest shown by the Scouts in many occasions, which attracted the attention of the government and its implementing partners like WHO, UNICEF and other NGOS to have the Scouts on board to lead the social mobilization campaign against this deadly disease which has no cure, but can be prevented through vaccination of children between the age of 0 – 5 years.
South Sudan is among the countries that has not yet kick-out polio according to the reports of the National Ministry of Health which indicates that there are still some reported few cases of polio in some parts of the country. This is why the National Ministry of Health and the implementing partners such as World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and other NGOS put in place a plan to accelerate the fight against Polio by making a routine polio vaccination nation-wide, with aim to kick-out polio and make South Sudan free of polio so that no child will again suffer from the infection of polio. The Polio Vaccination campaign is carried out twice a year targeting all children under five years including those children in hard to reach areas.
It is worth noted that polio is a dangerous disease that has no cure but can be prevented, it affect a child from day one to fifteen years, and can cause permanent paralysis in the lower and upper limbs, and it impacts negatively, socially and economically at personal, family and community levels.
The specific activities Scouts do during the social mobilization period were passing of correct informing to the public about the dates for the vaccination, which category of children are required to be vaccinated, giving of a brief explanation about polio as a disease, the disadvantage and advantage of the vaccination, provision of counseling to the parents who use to refuse their children to be vaccinated, mapping out the areas that were missed in the previous vaccination campaigns, fixing of posters/Banners containing polio messages on streets, Markets, Hospitals, Schools, Churches and Mosques, and at the end of the campaign the Scouts submit their reports to the Ministry of Health through Extended Programme for Immunization (EPI) departments at all levels for compilation. The Scouts also monitor and supervise the Vaccinators during the four days of vaccination exercise, to ensure that all households are visited, children vaccinated and numbered correctly, any shortage of vaccine is reported to the Field/County Supervisors for immediate intervention and drugs are supplied to the site.
Therefore, the participation of Scouts in this year’s social mobilization activity has contributed to a great improvement in terms of correct information received by the public resulting big turn up of mothers and children for vaccination, big number of households reached, wrong numbering of Households reduced, and some unreached areas were reached, rejection cases minimaxed and Hard to reach areas reached (Hard to reach areas are those areas under the control of the opposition groups and military areas). And above all the percentage of social mobilization and vaccination results have raised from 70% of previous campaigns to 90% this year, and we believe that this dramatic increase came as the results of the Scouts contribution.
Kicking-out of polio in South Sudan will be a great achievement to the people and government of South Sudan. And this will enable use the big budget used by government and its implementing partners to fight polio, will be geared to improve the deteriorating health services in the main Hospitals, Primary Health Centers (PHCs), and the Health Centers nation-wide to reduce mortality and pregnant mother’s death rate. This will also stop costs used to care for children affected with polio in the society, and member of a household will be able to participate in developmental activities at family, community and national levels. And no child in South Sudan will die or being prevented in benefiting from the nations services because and resources because of polio.
With the successful ending of the two rounds of polio vaccination campaigns, Scouts were praised and gain good name/reputation and more recognition from the government, UN agencies, NGOs, CBOs and communities at large. The good work portrayed by the Scouts and the Scout brand which is the uniform encouraged and attracted many young people to join scouting voluntarily. The new members said they attracted to join Scouting because of the good work that Scouts provide to the communities voluntarily and diligently without complaining, this act touched their hearts and motivated them to take the decision of joining Scouting so that they can also contribute in service provision to their communities and the nation. Joining of the new members to the Scout Association is in line with the Association’s vision of reaching out to 15000 young people by 2023.
This exercises is contributing towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) No.3 which is to ensure that everyone has the right to health coverage and access to safe and effective medicines and vaccines so that preventable child deaths dropped and maternal mortality reduced.
In the next coming rounds of polio vaccination campaigns, South Sudan Scout Association and UNICEF intends to extend the participation of the Scouts in the social mobilization campaigns to the other States in Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr El Ghazal Regions to ensure that the whole country is covered.