By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The Governor of Katsina State, Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari has reaffirmed the States’ support for New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative’s conditional cash transfers for routine immunization program in Katsina State. He made this known while speaking during a courtesy visit of advisors and staff of New Incentives to the Katsina State Governor
The Governor stated that “Routine immunization is very important and critical in the life of a baby while growing up. Monetary incentive is very good and the N500 disbursed during every immunization session is very important for women in rural communities. Katsina state and the State Ministry of Health will continue to support you to do more.” On the appeal to champion conditional cash transfer for routine immunization, Governor Masari while accepting promised to speak to his colleague Governors and the Minister of Health while advising New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative to ensure the engage the Governors of Jigawa and Zamfara States where they also operate, the media and CSOs. The Katsina State Governor inquired about the program location selection criteria while making a case for greater geographical spread of the program that do not forget the urban-poor.
The New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative has been operating the conditional cash transfers for routine immunization program in Katsina State since 2017. Since its inception, the program has enrolled over 110,000 infants whose caregivers have received more than N320 million in direct verified cash disbursements in Katsina State alone. This is in addition to New Incentives’ indirect investments in the Katsina state’s economy, such as the over N160 million spent in 2020 alone on disbursements, salaries, engagement of community helpers, support to government health agencies, and purchase from local markets in Katsina State. New Incentives conditional cash transfer program has led to a significant increase in the likelihood that a child in areas where the program operates will receive vaccinations against deadly diseases, or even be fully immunized according to the national immunization schedule. This is an incredibly important feat as North Western Nigeria has one of the lowest childhood immunization rates in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, the National Coordinator of New Incentives, Dr. Obinna Ebirim, said, “Thank you Your Excellency for the support Katsina State has provided for the program since we began here in 2017. We are proud to have a great partner in you in this journey to save the lives of Katsina children from vaccine-preventable deaths. Immunization is one of the most important public health interventions known to mankind, saving up to 3 million lives globally every year. Our program increases demand for routine childhood immunization through an evidence-based intervention that includes community mobilization, sensitization, conditional cash transfers, and defaulter tracking. An independent impact assessment of our program from 2017 to 2020 revealed that children in areas with the New Incentives’ intervention in Katsina State were 15 to 28 percentage points more likely to have received vaccinations against deadly diseases, such as Measles, Tuberculosis, and Diphtheria, than children in control areas”.
The event was also attended by the the Speaker of the Katsina State House of Assembly, the Deputy Governor, Grand Khali of Katsina State, various Commissioners and other government officials who applauded as the Governor received an award from All Babies Are Equal Initiative as a Champion of Conditional Cash Transfer for Routine Immunization. Others at the event included representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning who were in the State for a monitoring visit of NI-ABAE program, the Executive Secretary of Katsina State Primary Health Agency, Dr Shamsudeen Yahaya and the Stakeholder Relations Director of NI-ABAE, Mr Nura Muhammad.
The Katsina State Commissioner of Health, Yakubu Nuhu Danja stated the role New Incentives – All Babies Are Equal Initiative plays in strengthening routine immunization and raising immunization coverage in the State.