Kaduna Religious, traditional leaders laud NOA, UNICEF on HPV, diphtheria

By Asma'u Halilu, Kaduna

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Religious and traditional leaders in the Southern Senatorial District of Kaduna State have lauded the National Orientation Agency (NOA), and UNICEF for sensitizing them on the dangers of diphtheria and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

The Local Government Area District where the sensitization was done include Jema’a, Kachia, Jaba, Kaura, Kauru, Zangon Kataf, Kagarko and Sanga.

At a two-day sensitisation meeting in Kachia LGA, the leaders pledged to raise awareness in their respective LGAs on the dangers of the diseases and their possible ways of prevention.

A traditional leader, Alhaji Ibrahim Lawal, the Area Head of Maje Maraba, Kagarko LGA, said the knowledge he gained from the meeting would be very helpful when it reached his subjects.

He said there were many salient issues surrounding the diseases, which were unraveled in the meeting but had added to his knowledge.

“Most of us are ignorant about deadliness of the diseases and their simple preventive measures. This sensitisation by UNICEF and NOA will go a long way in ensuring we remain precautionary in avoiding ways of having the diseases.

“We are now better informed to make our people believe that this diseases, especially HPV and diphtheria, actually exist. The meeting is a good initiative, we shall take it down to our people,” Lawal assured.

Also, a religious leader, Pastor Samuel Haruna of the ECWA church in Sanga LGA, said he had never heard of diphtheria.

He however mentioned that he heard of an outbreak in Sanga LGA axis, where he got to know it was diphtheria at the sensitisation meeting with NOA and UNICEF.

“My coming here today is surely a blessing to my people, because I will make sure I step down what ever I learnt when ever I find myself on the pulpit.”

On his part, Malam Mustapha Aliyu, an Imam and Islamic school teacher from Kachia LGA, stated that he was aware of the existence of the diseases, but only got to know about it deeply at the meeting.

“I now know how to identify the disease, their causes, symptoms, preventive measures and how to differentiate them from other diseases,” he said.

Aliyu added that with the knowledge he gained, he could also differentiate between goitre and diphtheria which he said could have probably killed people due to ingnorance of the diseases themselves.

Earlier, the State Director of NOA in Kaduna, Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar said traditional and religious leaders were major stakeholders in all government activities and programmes.

On the mandate of NOA, he said the agency was saddled with the responsibility of consistently raising awareness, positively changing attitudes, values and behaviours accurately.

Abubakar therefore assured that NOA holds traditional and religious leaders in high esteem, noting that they played vital role in ensuring that such programmes were better understood by Nigerians.

“In cognisance of the dangers of HPV, yellow fever and diphtheria, NOA turned to development partner of UNICEF to embark on educating Nigerians on the dangers of the diseases and their preventive measures.”

The NOA director added that HPV infection, diphtheria, yellow fever and cervical cancer were leading health problems and causes of death in many parts of the world, where Nigeria was no exception.

Earlier, UNICEF’s Consultant on Traditional and Religious Leaders, Malam Khalifa Abdullahi, spoke on the importance of the programme, especially the preventive measures of the diseases.

He decried the unacceptance of vaccination among some people, while calling on them to embrace it, noting that it was part of the safest means of being prevented from the diseases.

Abdullahi said there were vaccination centres in parts of the state, where the traditional and religious leaders were expected to educate the people in their places on the need for vaccine.

A Resource Person, Mohammed Falalu, said diphtheria was preventable by vaccine and treatable by medical professionals.

He said it spreads in various ways, required medical diagnosis such as laboratory tests or imaging, where in short-term it is resolved within days to weeks and emergency care in critical condition