The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib has assured Nigerians that any investment in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine, the logistics, delivery, and administration processes has the dual benefit of protection against COVID-19 infection and strengthening the country’s primary health care system.
He explained that the expected engagement of additional healthcare workers to administer the vaccine and ensure non-disruption of routine services, the intensive capacity building and the acquisition of new and additional cold chain equipment will contribute immensely to strengthening the PHC system. This holistic approach to health system strengthening, which is driven through the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 is based on global standards and is in line with observations and recommendations recently made by our donors and development partners. Any idea or report that this approach does not prioritize strengthening of the health system stems from a lack of complete understanding of the health system and should be disregarded.
The NPHCDA boss is very optimistic that despite the challenges, long after the country has overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons learnt, the new skills acquired by health workers and the infrastructural improvements would place the country in better stead to manage future pandemics.
He said while the country appreciates the global effort through the COVAX facility to ensure low- and medium-income countries like Nigeria have fair and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine, the delay in accessing vaccines means that eligible countries would have to explore all channels that can ensure fair prices, safe and effective vaccines for its populace. Therefore the Hon. Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire is also engaged with the African Union through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. He further assured Nigerians that the Federal Government is committed to securing the much-needed COVID-19 vaccines, taking into consideration safety, efficacy, cost and required logistics to stop ongoing community transmission of the virus.
As the country awaits the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine in February, the PTF has called on State governments to put all the necessary logistics in place to ensure a successful vaccination exercise.
Meanwhile, traditional leaders in Nigeria have pledged their support for the COVID-19 vaccine introduction in the country, urging the Federal Government to procure adequate quantities of the vaccine. His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto has urged Nigerians to get vaccinated as soon as safe, effective and NAFDAC certified vaccines are available. He also stressed the need to disregard rumours about the vaccine and rely only on information from credible sources for decision making