LAGOS, Nigeria, 16 November 2022 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Popular Nollywood actress, Ini Edo and actor, IK Ogbonna were recently unveiled as Niyel Immunization Champions. In this role, they have committed to an ongoing partnership with Niyel to reorient the public on the importance of vaccines and immunization. The recent event took place in Lagos State, Nigeria, where the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and a press conference with the celebrities took place. The event coincided with the global celebration of World Pneumonia Day; a day set aside to raise awareness on the deadly nature of pneumonia and to highlight global action to protect against pneumonia, including the use of pneumococcal vaccines.
Niyel was represented in the unveiling and MoU signing by its Senior Advocacy Officer, Dr. Obinna Ebirim. In his opening remarks, he said:
“Pneumonia is a life-threatening illness but can be prevented through vaccines. However, many are missing out on the preventive pneumococcal vaccines. Engaging celebrities like Ini Edo and IK Ogbanna with numerous fans across many African countries and huge online followship, is a good strategy to reach many who are missing out on these vaccines and increase their confidence in immunization. Vaccines save millions of lives yearly and protect us, our children, and communities from many deadly diseases. We call on other celebrities to join these Nollywood stars to become champions and save lives.”
Speaking on why they decided to partner with Niyel on this social cause, Ini Edo highlighted the increasing number of unvaccinated children in Nigeria and Africa which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic in part due to unnecessary fear and unfounded rumours. She said that this led to resurgence of some vaccine-preventable diseases, increased the number of children falling ill from these diseases and more associated deaths. The award-winning Nigerian actress add:
“The increasing number of unvaccinated children, leading to increased cases of vaccine-preventable diseases and deaths, is worrisome. As celebrities, we must use our popularity to save lives by educating our audience on the importance of vaccines and correcting misconceptions around immunization. My colleague IK and I have agreed to become Niyel Immunization Champions because it is a worthy cause and aligns with our passion for doing good.”
Ik Ogbonna stated that as Immunization Champions, they will leverage on their large followship online to share key messages, have weekly LIVE online discussion sessions on vaccines and immunization, burst vaccines myths and conduct online quizzes in which prizes will be won. He further noted the choice of World Pneumonia Day 2022 to mark the start of this worthy humanitarian cause was intentional, and necessary to highlight the severity of vaccine-preventable diseases such as Pneumonia, and the role vaccines play in preventing associated deaths especially in children. He said:
“It is important that we are starting these media activities as Immunization Champions on World Pneumonia Day 2022 because pneumonia is one the deadliest diseases that is vaccine-preventable and has killed many, especially those that are unvaccinated. We need to double up efforts to ensure that more people are vaccinated. I call on the Nigerian people to engage with our informative posts on our social media pages as Immunization Champions and participate in our weekly LIVE online discussions where we will share key messages, burst false information and rumours on immunization and run fun quizzes where you can win prizes.”
In 2022, the World Health Organization and UNICEF published a report that revealed that 25 million children missed out on essential vaccination in the previous year. Vaccine distrust and low confidence in immunization, which worsened during the COVID-19 crisis, was a major contributing factor along with large scale misinformation. The increasing number of zero-dose (unvaccinated) children portends a great danger as millions are left with no protection against deadly diseases such as pneumonia.
Distributed by African Media Agencyon behalf of Niyel.
Founded in 2008, Niyel is an international advocacy and campaigning firm based in Dakar, Senegal. It works to promote public policies that are conducive to the development of all people, and to influence practices to ensure that as citizens, individuals, and communities, we understand the social, political, and cultural issues that affect our daily lives.
Anne Letissia Konan