Last November, the Gates Foundation hosted the Teach to Reach: Innovative Methods for Immunization Training summit in Seattle. Some of the Nigerian summit attendees have since returned to their home country to share what they have learned about immunization training.
The Teach to Reach website describes the event as “a resource for immunization professionals to share and explore recent advances in educational psychology and instructional design, and to discuss how best to use new strategies and tools to improve immunization training.”
Doctor Bassey, the current Head of Routine Immunization and Essential Services at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in Nigeria leads a group “working to revitalize the national immunization training task team.” Two of his major partners are Doctors Abiola and Abisola from Clinton Health Access Initiative.
The team has faced many challenges in an attempt to increase immunization training in the country. One of the major issues is ensuring access to every health facility in the country of 180,000 people. The doctors are also pushing for each immunization center to use the same training manuals.
Abiola and Abisola have done major work in the state of Lagos to provide more hands-on rather than theoretical training– for instance using life-size dolls to practice delivering immunizations. They report that Lagos State Government officials have been very supportive of their efforts.
Increased immunization training also works to advance adult learning and strengthen the skilled labor market within Nigeria.
Bassey, Abiola and Abisola are not the first to focus on immunizations in Nigeria. Nigeria has worked to increase immunizations and improve training within the country for decades. Nigeria’s Expanded Programme on Immunization began in 1979, and 20 years later, the fight against polio has resulted in a renewed focus on vaccinations. Thus, the resulting creation became the National Programme on Immunization.
Despite the countless initial obstacles, the future of immunization training in Nigeria looks bright and displays the success of the Teach to Reach Summit message.
– Carrie Robinson