Owing to the news making the rounds early last week that the viral monkeypox disease vaccination was being administered to children in some parts of the State of Osun by men of the Nigerian Army, the State Government of Osun through the Primary Health Care Development Board has organised a statewide sensitisation rally to enlightenment the citizens.
The rally which began at the main entrance to the State Secretariat saw members of the State Mobilisation Committee, Officials of the State Ministry of Health and the State Primary Health Care Development Board and journalists go through major parts of the state capital. When the sensitisation rally took the team to the State House of Assembly, Mr James Oloyede, the Director of Community Health Services and Education, Primary Health Care Development Board, stated that the whole point of the rally was to inform the people of the state that there was no case of outbreak of monkeypox in the state.
Oloyede debunked the rumour that any pupil in both the state’s public or private schools had died, saying that no health officials had been authorised to conduct immunisation campaign on behalf of the State Ministry of Health. He also stated that the people should not entertain any fear because the officials in charge of carrying out vaccination exercise when the time comes, would have been thoroughly trained.
In his word, “Osun health workers are properly trained and the job of administering vaccines had been entrusted to them and currently, there is no vaccination exercise ongoing, just as no soldier has been authorised in the state to carry out any vaccination exercise. “Soldiers are not the proper ones to administer vaccination because that is not part of their job as they don’t even have the training to do it”.
The Director maintained that since the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had determined to make provision of health care one of its cardinal responsibility to the people of the state, then government owed it a duty to ensure that children were immunised at the appropriate time to prevent deaths that might otherwise have been avoided.
On her own, Mrs. Francisca Adeosun, the State Immunisation Officer stated that Immunisation was free and without any side effects. She also appealed to all parents to ensure that their children were immunised anytime it was due, especially as another round of the Maternal Mother and Child Health Care Week for November was just some weeks away. In her response, Bukola Omisakin, the representative of Alhaji Sanusi Raheem, Secretary, House Committee on Health stated that despite the absence of the principal officers of the House being unavoidably absent to receive the rally train, she would pass their message across to members of the House Committee on Health.
She maintained that she was sure that the committee members would take into account their action and necessary steps and support would be given since the rally was for the good of the people of the State. At the Palace of the Ataoja of Osogbo land, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun, the same reception was accorded the rally train. The monarch who was overseeing a traditional court on arrival praised the entourage for their good work and promised to ensure that the message was disseminated to everybody.
The foremost traditional ruler praised the state government for its efforts as resilient in ensuring that citizens in the state were healthy. The whole rumour about soldiers immunising children was as a result of the misconception that had emanated when soldiers of 82 Division Nigerian Army who were involved in Operation ‘Egwu Eke II’ (Python Dance II) carried out free medical outreach for people within its theatre of operation.
Due to the fact that the operation was condemned in some quarters and the bad blood it spread between the Army and the people, rumours started filtering in that during the free health and screening exercise, soldiers went about vaccinating children in the Eastern part of Nigeria with the Monkey Pox virus that had an outbreak during the period in review.
Rumours spread to neighbouring Ondo state where parents rushed to their children schools to withdraw them because they heard that some children had allegedly died as a result of vaccines administered on them by soldiers. The rally took the participants through Gbongan-Ibadan Road, through Jaleyemi Junction, terminated at Oja’Oba. Meanwhile, according to reports, similar rallies were held simultaneously in all the local government councils, local council development areas, area councils and administrative offices.