The National Orientation Agency (NOA) is working with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to raise awareness in 1, 300 hard-to-reach communities in Kaduna State, on preventable diseases.

Malam Lawal Danrokal, a Deputy Director of the agency in the state, made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna.

Danrokal said that the partnership was to curb preventable diseases responsible for 70 per cent deaths in children.

According to him, most of the deaths occur due to diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria, HIV/AIDS, measles and malnutrition, which are preventable.

“These are diseases you can prevent without necessarily going to the hospital.

“We are, therefore, partnering with UNICEF to enlighten people about the diseases, the cause agents and simple ways to prevent them.”

He noted that most of the hard-to-reach communities had no health facilities and often had to travel very far to access healthcare services.

The NOA official said the 1, 300 communities were spread across the 23 Local Government Areas of the state.

The official said that so far, the agency had reached out to 266 of the communities in Giwa, Soba, Birnin Gwari, Kauru, Ikara, Zaria, Zangon Kataf, Kachia, Kudan, Kajuru and Lere local government areas.

He said that no fewer than 8,781 people, comprised of 5, 209 female and 3, 572 male, were educated on basic health care in the 266 communities.

Danrokal said that most of them claimed that it was the first time government officials visited them.

He added that the community dialogue would continue, until all the identified communities were enlightened on basic hygiene necessary to prevent diseases.

Danrokal also said that in the course of the visits, the team identified distance and bad terrain as some of the causes limiting access to health facilities in rural areas.

“Similarly, we also realised in the course of the dialogue that ignorance, negative traditional and misconception of religious limitations have hindered demand for health services.

“Also, some men do not allow their women to be seen by male health personnel, while others erroneously believe that HIV virus could be contacted through immunisation.

“This reduced proper demand for antenatal care and immunisation in some communities.

“For others, the fear of toilet disease infections, and the negative belief that HIV can be contracted through the use of toilets, made some communities resistant to toilet use.”

He said that follow up awareness activities would be organised targeting the identified barriers.

Mrs Theresa Pamma, UNICEF’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Specialist in the state, told NAN that NOA’s resourcefulness in social mobilisation was crucial in reaching out to the identified communities in the state.