UNICEF-Radio4Child Honour Radio Professionals for Promoting Children’s Routine Immunisation and COVID-19 Messaging

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Mumbai: Multi-Grammy award-winning music composer, environmentalist and UNICEF Celebrity Supporter, Ricky Kej, felicitated over 80 radio professionals from all over India at an event organised by Radio4Child, an initiative by UNICEF India to engage radio professionals with thought-provoking programming on child and maternal health.

The two-day Radio4Child workshop felicitated radio professionals, from private FM and All India Radio across the country, for their commendable work during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as for children’s Routine Immunisation. Radio professionals reaffirmed to focus on the issue of Routine Immunisation.

Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communication, Advocacy and Partnerships, UNICEF India, said, “We sincerely appreciate the engagement with radio professionals and RJs through the Radio4Child platform across the challenging years of the pandemic, which consistently brought forth issues that affected children. Radio, with its power of voice, brings alive stories, issues and situations that connect effectively with its listeners. I am very happy that today we also have with us a creative giant and multi-Grammy Award-winning music composer and UNICEF Celebrity Supporter, Ricky Kej, to felicitate and acknowledge this collaboration.”

“Our work, however, is not yet over. As we know while India’s immunisation coverage of children has improved substantially across the country, there are still gaps in immunisation coverage, especially from marginalised communities in urban and rural areas,” she said.

Thanking the radio professionals and RJs, for their dedication and commitment to creating a better tomorrow for every child, UNICEF Celebrity Supporter, Ricky Kej, said, “Media is a powerful force that can contribute to all children getting vaccinated, living a healthy life, and reaching their full potential. We need to continue the excellent work done during the pandemic in building awareness and countering rumours. The RJs ability to creatively reach its audience with relevant information is a game-changer and allows for effective messaging that counters vaccine hesitancy among parents.”

During the pandemic, Radio4Child engaged with over 2,000 radio professionals from all over India through capacity building workshops/sessions and one-on-one communication to sensitize and encourage creative programmes around COVID-19, vaccination and its impact on children.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted essential immunisation services due to multiple reasons, it has increased the possibility of un/partially vaccinated children being exposed to the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD). The Government of India launched the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 4.0 programme earlier this year to focus on geographic areas where improvement in Routine Immunisation coverage is required.

Dr Sachin Desai, State Immunisation Officer, Government of Maharashtra, giving an update on IMI 4.0 said, “It costs more to control an outbreak than to prevent it. The opportunity costs of not vaccinating all children are staggering, particularly for overstretched health systems. Our work to provide children and communities with essential health services including vaccination is more critical now than ever. The Government of India is committed to providing essential health services for children in preventing and containing further disease outbreaks.”

Rajeshwari Chandrasekar, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Maharashtra, stressed the need to spread the message of vaccine equity. “Narrowing the immunisation gaps among the poor, marginalised, uneducated groups in all geographic locations – rural and urban – must be a priority. We must close the immunisation gap in every state, in every district and in every community to ensure that children have life-long protection from vaccine-preventable diseases,” she said.

The hashtag for the event and World immunisation Week is #LongLifeForAll, with long life reflecting the importance of lifespan vaccinations, and ‘for all’ reflecting the importance of vaccine equity. It celebrates the long history of vaccination in a tone of gratitude, care, and love.