The National Orientation Agency (NOA) and UNICEF have charged women to desist from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and embrace COVID-19 vaccine for healthy living.
UNICEF Desk Officer in Imo, Mr Chigozie Ojiaku gave the advice at a sensitisation programme during the Akokwa Women August meeting on Thursday in Akokwa, Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo.
Our correspondent reports that hundreds of women gathered for the meeting from the six villages of Akokwa namely Umuokpara, Umuezekwu, Umuezeagu, Akwu, Owerriakokwa and Umuopia.
Ojiaku advised them to disregard the rumours making rounds on the disadvantages of taking COVID-19 vaccine but go ahead and be immunised with their family members for protection from the deadly virus.
He also told them to continue to observe the COVID-19 protocols to stay safe.
“To stay safe and protected from COVID-19, continue to comply with NCDC guidelines.Taking COVID-19 vaccine protects you and your loved ones from the deadly disease,” he said.
Ojiaku also urged the women to desist from mutilating their female children but allow them be as God created them.
He said that a lot of women that were mutilated during their childhood or adult state of life had sad stories to tell when they marry and while giving birth.
He added that some female children had died as a result of bleeding from the practice.
The women were equally enjoined to adhere to the six essential family practices which include exclusive breastfeeding of their children for six months, regular antenatal clinics for pregnant women, regular washing of hands as well as avoiding open defecation.
“Early baby initiation to breastfeeding and complete removal of water or other fluids for the first six months ensure healthy children.
“All pregnant women should complete antenatal visits to avoid complications during child delivery as well as give their children the complete immunisation doses.
“Unimmunised children pose health risk in the community. Take your child (0 – 59 months) to the nearest health centre for routine immunisation and ensure full completion.
“Immunisation is effective, free and safe. Do not miss this opportunity. Keep your Immuniaation/vaccination card safe,” he said.
He also urged the women to observe the COVID-19 protocols of sanitising their hands with alcohol based sanitiser, wash their hands under running water, wear their face masks and engage in social distancing in the midst of crowds.
NOA and UNICEF also took the sensitisatiom campaign to St. Peters Anglican Church, Akokwa and Naze Secondary School, Owerri North Local Government Area, where other groups of women gathered for their August meeting.
Responding, the women commended NOA and UNICEF for the enlightenment campaign and urged them not to relent.
They testified to the importance of exclusive breastfeeding of children for upward of six months and regular attendance to antenatal clinics for pregnant women.
They also noted that a lot of them had stopped the mutilation of their girl children through the enlightenment programmes carried out by NOA and UNICEF.
Mrs Hope Anozie, Coordinator of the Akokwa Women August Meeting at St. Barnabas Catholic Parish Akokwa, and Mrs Ngozi Maduakolam, President General of Udom Aladinma Naze August Meeting, promised on behalf of the women to adhere to the six essential family practices.
The women also promised to ensure that their girl children were not mutilated and present themselves for immunisation against the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.