What does it take to ensure our program is continuing to make an impact and save lives? For one, it takes good systems and reliable data. More importantly, it takes dedicated, skilled, and compassionate field officers like Abubakar Aliyu. In this post, we spotlight Abubakar’s day—and the simple tools he uses—to give you a glimpse into what we do, how we do it, and who makes it happen on the ground.
Abubakar Aliyu, a field officer with New Incentives, works at four public health clinics in Jigawa, located in the North West region of Nigeria where only 25 percent of children are fully vaccinated. In his role, he is responsible for verifying babies have received vaccines and then disbursing cash incentives to their caregivers. New Incentives’ program is known as the All Babies Are Equal (ABAE) program in Nigeria—caregivers often shorten it and call it the All Babies program.
Abubakar uses simple verification and documentation tools in this work: his mobile phone, All Babies program cards, official stamps, ID stickers, and government-issued vaccination cards. Throughout his day, he enters data into two secure apps on his phone that feed into a database to enable tracking progress toward goals and validation of information.
At the beginning of each day, Abubakar reviews his enrollment numbers. If numbers are low, he plans an outreach session in collaboration with the clinic staff, which is made possible through our partnership with the State and Local governments. Our program’s success depends on many factors, including meeting our enrollment goals in some of the hardest-to-reach rural communities. “To do outreach about the program, we identify the caregivers that need to be approached and then we may go house to house with a community health worker.”
After this administrative work, Abubakar joins the health talk given to caregivers at the clinics before their infants are vaccinated. It’s an important time to address caregivers’ concerns about vaccines. During the talk, clinic staff and field officers describe the life-saving benefits, the mild side effects, and the fact that many of the vaccines have been around for a long time. “We tell them it’s the same vaccine that your parents got.”
The children are then vaccinated by health clinic staff. Atika, pictured below, vaccinates an average of 60 children each week at a public health clinic, where she has worked for over 19 years. “It makes me feel happy to be able to help children get protected from preventable diseases,” she says when asked about the motivation behind her work. When mothers come to her with concerns arising from post-vaccination side effects, she tells them, “It is better for your baby to cry for a day and grow healthy than [what could happen] otherwise.”
After a baby is vaccinated, Abubakar sits down with the caregiver and infant in order to verify eligibility for disbursing a cash incentive. He first explains data that will be collected and requests consent. He then reviews basic information about the caregiver and infant, such as age and date of birth, and inquires about where they live in relation to the clinic. If basic eligibility requirements are satisfied, he enrolls them in the All Babies program and assigns them a unique ID. This ID sticker is placed on the Child Health Card (issued by the government) as well as a new All Babies program card. He then stamps both of the stickers as a fraud-prevention measure to ensure they can’t be used again. If this is a return visit, then he double-checks the Child Health Card and All Babies program card in order to ensure the ID numbers match and that the records represent the child in front of him.
Abubakar then verifies that they received the correct vaccines for that day (he also watches vaccination providers administer vaccines) in order to ensure that the vaccine administered is appropriately recorded on the Child Health Card. He then provides the cash transfer and takes a photo of the caregiver with their cash disbursement and All Babies program card using a secure app. As a program that disburses cash to individuals, this is one of our monitoring protocols to ensure that the money reaches the individuals who have vaccinated their infants. These photos are kept securely in accordance with strict data protection policies and are only used for verification and audit purposes.
After disbursing cash, Abubakar then discusses with the caregiver when they are supposed to return for their next vaccination visit. New Incentive encourages each of the six immunization visits (you can learn more about that here) and ensures that the caregiver knows how much the cash incentive is for their next visit.
Interesting fact: The back of the All Babies card reminds caregivers about their next vaccination day. Program participants and community members helped us create this format, which uses the phases of the moon to show the passage of time (sticks for weeks and moons for months). We’re committed to making our tools and communication strategies as effective as possible.
Abubakar has served caregivers at more than 180 disbursement days since joining New Incentives last year. He recently talked about his experience providing cash incentives to caregivers, like Fatima (pictured below), after their children are vaccinated.
While recording the data and providing cash disbursements, he is kind and compassionate. “We are trained to treat caregivers with the utmost care,” he says. He notes that by the time caregivers arrive at the clinic, they have often endured a long, arduous travel day. “In Nigeria, public transport is normally overloaded. If it’s supposed to carry five people, it may be loaded with 10,” he says.
New Incentives employs 1,500+ field officers and our recruitment process is aimed at hiring people from local communities. Our staff bring valuable knowledge of their own communities, supporting our program in accessing the hardest-to-reach communities where vaccination is not always the norm. By using their knowledge and dialect, they can gain the trust of their communities and help overcome local barriers to childhood vaccination.
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