The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib has assured Nigerians that the government has never and will never compromise on safe health care delivery in the country.
Dr. Shuaib stated this at the North-Central Zonal Town Hall Meeting on COVID-19 Vaccination hosted by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Tuesday in Lafia.
He disclosed that the aim of the meeting was to discuss COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria, explore relevant perspectives and reach a consensus that will enrich on- going efforts by the government to ensure that Nigerians are protected from the disease.
TheFact Nigeria gathered that this was the first among six townhall meetings that would be held across the country as it was scheduled to take place in each of the geopolitical zones.
It is aimed at: improving community knowledge of the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination
•Sensitising community members on COVID-19 vaccine and dispel rumours, misinformation and disinformation about the vaccine.
•Enhancing community ownership and participation in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
•Briefing citizens on the importance & benefits of vaccination against COVID-19, through community leaders.
Today’s Town Hall Meeting brought together stakeholders from North-Central states, comprising of Nasarawa, Kogi, Plateau, Kwara, Niger and Benue.
“Coming together today as a community of North Central Nigeria, aligns with our core principles that it is not enough to offer vaccines to Nigerians,
“we must also do the hard work and provide the resources to ensure that Nigerians are provided with the correct information required to make an informed decision about accepting the vaccine,” said Dr. Shuaib
He explained that the global outbreak of COVID-19, officially declared a pandemic on 11th March 2020, and the timeline in which its vaccines were developed have been trailed by much apprehension and controversy, fuelled by large scale misinformation and disinformation.
“The scale of this misinformation and disinformation has rightly been described as an ‘infodemic’, causing widespread confusion and risk-taking behaviours that can harm health. The world is clearly currently battling a COVID-19 infodemic, In addition to the pandemic itself.
“Our health intervention model at NPHCDA has always involved consulting widely with stakeholders at National, State, LGA and community levels to ensure effective participation and collaboration in our planning, decision making and implementation processes,” he said.
He expressed that despite intensive & extensive anti-vaccination campaigns, as at this morning, 1,110, 820 Nigerians, representing 55.2 % of the eligible persons targeted in this current phase, have received their first dose of the vaccine.
This data, he revealed is based on reports received from states through the Electronic Management of Immunization Data (EMID) system.
“A platform that will be leveraged for strengthening Routine Immunization data management.”
He also disclosed that the agency has liased with sister agencies to ensure a smooth and seamless vaccination excercise across the country.
“We are working closely with National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on pharmaco-vigilance to monitor, report and manage all reported cases of AEFI.
“We are also collaborating with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure vaccine security and accountability, as well as the National Orientation Agency (NOA),
“to further educate and sensitize Nigerians on the benefits of vaccination, as a means of protecting themselves, their families and their communities, and ultimately, to facilitate the return to social and economic normalcy.”
Addressing the citizens’ worries, he explained that he was aware of the general concerns around the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and the specific concerns on the Oxford/Astrazeneca COVISHIELD vaccine being currently administered in the country,
“The Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine, among others, is safe and efficacious. This has been confirmed through series of investigations by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA),”
“These global regulatory authorities have continued to advocate for its use in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Moreover, the safety of this vaccine was certified by NAFDAC before a single dose was administered in the country,
“The WHO strongly recommends the continued use of Astrazeneca for all eligible age groups, as the calculated benefits far outweigh the risks,” he said
Going further, he stated that there is global scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines due to high demand for the vaccines, especially in countries where they are being produced.
For this reason, we should anticipate a delay in vaccine supply to Nigeria. He disclosed that the government has decided to rationalize by preserving 50% of available doses of the vaccine for administration as second doses.
This means in each state of the federation, including FCT, only 50% of allocated doses of vaccines are currently being administered. The remaining 50% will be administered between 8 – 12 weeks from the date of the first doses.
“Nevertheless, efforts are ongoing globally to ensure that vaccines are made available as required for attaining herd immunity worldwide. The Federal Government is committed to ensuring vaccines are supplied to Nigeria for smooth continuation of our campaign,” he admonished.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire explained that the event was part of that auspicious exercise that affords them the opportunity to inform citizens, through eminent leaders, about the vaccination strategy and to address concerns about aspects of the vaccination process which began early in March.
“The COVID-19 outbreak in 2019 has claimed millions of lives around the world and battered the economies, even of wealthy countries. Nigeria has not been an exception.
“Since the first case was confirmed in Lagos on 27th February 2020, Covid-19 has taken over 2,0060 Nigerian lives and continued to strain our economy. Our GDP has fallen by 23% due to the downturn in economic activities, both inside Nigeria & with our international trading partners,” he lamented.
He disclosed that the first of the four-phase vaccination exercise was currently ongoing and targets frontline health workers and support personnel, first responders including military and paramilitary, journalists, etc. And that the dates for subsequent phases will be announced as at when due.
He further revealed that the target is to vaccinate at least 70% of the eligible population over a two year period, to achieve herd immunity, which is scientifically defined to be interruption of transmission. The plan, he said depends on vaccine availability.
“Government will ensure that eligible citizens have access to safe & effective COVID-19 vaccines. Consequently, the Federal Ministry of Healty and its Agencies and Departments are working with stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria benefits from the global supply of WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our mission here today is first to reassure traditional, faith and community leaders, that the vaccines Nigeria uses are tested as safe, and to urge leaders to recommend it to your families and communities as the best protection against the dreaded disease.
“We must contribute to the desired 70% to be vaccinated, not just an act of individual self-protection but a civic duty to curtail the spread of the virus.
“Every one of us has a role in the effort to stem the Covid-19 pandemic by being vaccinated, promoting vaccination, and observing the Covid-19 protocol of wearing face mask, regular hand washing with soap under running water and maintaining physical distancing.
“This point is due for emphasis because the act of vaccination does not yet free us from these precautions, which till further notice are still as relevant as on the day they were prescribed, he reiterated.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force bonus Covid-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, The Executive Governor of Nassarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, top government officials of the state,
Traditional rulers and other details were present at the meeting.