By Mike Oboh
Yiaga Africa has said for Nigeria to achieve her targets in the fight against COVID 19 pandemic, the country requires developing a detailed plan for vaccine rollout, addressing misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccine, and restoring the people’s confidence in the government.
According to a release signed by Yiaga Africa Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu, these will directly impact the government’s ability to meet its vaccination targets and effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
She stated that there is also a need to strengthen Nigeria’s health sector and systems for efficient vaccine introduction, providing accountability and transparency on the management of funds earmarked by and donated to the government to fight the pandemic, adding that there is a need to create avenues for citizen’s participation and public enlightenment and education campaign that will provide adequate information on the vaccine and the importance of curbing the spread of COVID-19.
She added that after months of waiting, Nigeria has finally received its first batch of nearly 4m COVID-19vaccines via the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility as part of efforts to combat the pandemic which has ravaged the world.
“The Federal Government has commenced the distribution of the vaccines across the country. It has set a target of vaccinating 40% of the population by the end of 2021 and 70% of Nigeria’s estimated population before the end of 2022. It has also announced that it expects 41 million doses of the vaccine through the African Union, which is sourcing them from manufacturers in India.
“So far, about a quarter of the vaccines (1.084 million doses) have been distributed to eight states, with Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory accounting for two-thirds of the number distributed and Nasarawa, Benue, Adamawa, Cross River, Ondo, and Ekiti states accounting for the remaining one-third,” she stated.
According to Yiaga, the vaccinations have begun in Lagos, Nasarawa, Ekiti and CrossRiver states and the Federal Capital Territory while the other states have confirmed receipt of the vaccines.
She however said that there is still little detail about how these vaccination targets will be achieved beyond registration website that provides information on which groups will be given priority.
The groups include frontline healthcare workers and those who work in high-risk areas like entry points and contact tracing teams, and COVID-19 vaccination teams. This group is followed by security personnel, teachers, and the elderly, especially those with comorbidities – cancer, diabetes, asthma, HIV and AIDS, and immune-compromised patients. The general population then follows after the first two groups.
As the Government commenced the distribution of the vaccines across the country, it was imperative to ensure Nigeria achieves equitable distribution of the vaccines across the country, emphasizing gender, disability, and social inclusion.
To this end, Yiaga Africa recent Vaccine Management Policy Brief (Issue 1) discusses amongst other things, the challenges facing the commencement of the vaccination programme and proffers recommendations for improved vaccine management in Nigeria.
The Policy Brief will be followed by a policy dialogue on the COVID-19 vaccination program in Nigeria especially as new issues emerge.
This policy brief will be an excellent resource for assisting the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, healthcare policymakers, legislators, and public health experts to manage the COVID-19vaccination program in Nigeria effectively.