- The federal government has been accused of not sticking to its COVID-19 vaccination plan
- This was the argument of stakeholders in the health sector at a webinar organised by Yiaga Africa
- Participants and experts at the meeting, discussed challenges in the cause of vaccine distribution and proffered solutions
Stakeholders especially doctors and medical practitioners have raised concerns over the current deviation from what they describeD as the original COVID-19 vaccination plan designed after the arrival of the about 4 million Astrazeneca vaccine into Nigeria.
The stakeholders made their concerns known during a webinar organised by Yiaga Africa and monitored by Legit.ng.
The organisers say the meeting was geared towards looking at emerging issues and challenges in the cause of vaccine distribution and to proffer solutions.
Speaking during the virtual meeting, the chairman of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Sanusi Muhammed said the initial plan of vaccinating health workers, frontline workers, those with higher morbidity and mortality rate is not being adhered to nationwide.
According to Dr Mujhammed, the idea of vaccinating frontline health workers is because they are at higher risks due to incessant contact with patients.
“We need to stick to the vaccination plan so that even if the vaccine doesn’t go round, those with higher risk, elderly and those with high morbidity and mortality are prevented from getting infected and that will reduce the burden of the disease and mortality.”
On the issue of misinformation and misconception raised in the policy brief released by the organisers, Sanusi said the misconception about the COVID-19 vaccine is not only in Nigeria but all over the world with many countries stopping the vaccine based on non-scientific theories.
He called for the review of Nigeria’s health indices and the need for the government to declare a state of emergency in not just the security but the health sector, saying COVID-19 exposed health systems across the world.
He also urged the National Assembly to speed up the passage of the Infectious Diseases Bill saying, the legislation will enhance control over what is happening in the country.
Echoing similar concerns, Dr. Henry Ewunonu, a medical health advocate and former national chairman of the NMA health advocacy committee, urged the government to be transparent and accountable in a bid to increase private sector support in procuring the COVID-19 vaccines,
He decried the fact that there is no legislation, executive order or policy, prohibiting sharp practices in the course of administering the COVID-19 vaccine to Nigerians.
In her remark, the Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu said the conversation is important to ensure that the whole process of vaccination is guided by certain principles and every aspect of society is catered for.
“In the implementation of vaccines in Nigeria, we need to deploy effective monitoring and evaluation systems that will help document how well we have done, document the learning, and how we can improve on the system.
“Beyond just the vaccination, there is a need to look at how to strengthen the health sector in Nigeria.”
Earlier, during his presentation on the policy brief, Yiaga Africa’s director of Center of Legislative Engagement, Dr. Ernest Ereke revealed that the invention of the vaccine is a pivotal moment in the global battle against the covid-19 pandemic.
He said the inequitable distribution of vaccines globally, accentuates the divide between the global north and global south, saying this will weaken and hamper the fight against the global pandemic because the world is more linked together like never before.
Meanwhile, the federal government has revealed that no Nigerian will be forced to take part in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination.
The minister of state for health, Olorunnimbe Mamora confirmed this on Friday, March 19 in Asaba, the Delta state capital.
In a related development, the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has maintained that the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in Nigeria should not be halted because of the fears of side-effects.
NAFDAC's director-general, Mojisola Adeyeye, advised that with the rate of deaths from the pandemic both locally and globally, it will be wrong and dangerous to stop the exercise.