Written by Kimberly Nnabue
On 20th June, 2017 the African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD) – a WAVA coalition member – organized an interschool debate on the theme “Religious Bodies and Private Organizations in Nigeria Should be Part of Vaccine Financing” at Living Brooks Event Centre Asokoro, Abuja.
The debate was part of AfrYPoD’s Youth Advocacy for Sustainable and Equitable Vaccine Access (YASEVA) project, an implementation of the WAVA Small Grant which it was awarded in March 2017. The YASEVA project aims to bring young people together, help them understand the value of vaccines and encourage them to add their voices to the cause for sustainable immunization financing.
The debate featured two schools, Grant International Academy, Nassarawa State supporting the motion, and Brightway International Secondary School FCT Abuja opposing the motion. The participants carried out an engaging and educational debate as their schoolmates in the audience took part in the ensuing discussions.
The students made some insightful observations including Mishach Ominu who, in supporting the motion, made a point that religious bodies and private organizations have a corporate social responsibility to support the government in any way that they can. Joy Elisha, in opposition stated that the government has the responsibility to its people as well as the means to procure the vaccines to sustain immunization financing. At the end of the debate, Brightway International won the debate with 75 points to Grant International’s 66.
In his closing remarks, Direct Consulting and Logistics (DCL) consultant Dr. Obinna Ebirim asked students who were interested in becoming advocates for the cause to come up the stage and take a pledge. In a touching show of solidarity, the students all came forward and took a pledge to talk to their families and friends, and to always speak up for immunization and sustainable immunization financing.
AfrYPoD advocacy consultant, Mr. Daniel Ogangwu, representing the Founder of AfrYPoD, Dr. Laz Eze, ended the event reminding everyone in attendance that a final debate and prize-giving event will be held on the 29th of June, 2017.
The event was also attended by representatives from Tech Her, Vaccine Network for Disease Control, Education as a Vaccine (EVA) and other CSOs as well as teachers and students from the competing schools.