Covid-19: NPHCDA boss laments delay in vaccine arrival

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Faisal Shuaibu yesterday lamented delay in arrival of covid 19 vaccines into the country adding that the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari through the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 is determined to take all necessary steps to overcome the supply challenges the country is experiencing and ensure an efficient roll out of COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria.

It could be recall that the agency last month had assured Nigerians on prompt arrival of 100 doses of the vaccines.

Making this known yesterday in Abuja during press briefing of the agency with the presidential task force on Covid-19, Dr. Shauibu advised Nigerians that in the meantime, to take responsibility for themselves and their loved ones and adhere to the protocols of infection prevention and control, through wearing of facemasks, hand hygiene and physical distancing.

According to him, In spite of the challenges caused by the delay on the arrival of the vaccines and the difficult task of accessing the COVID-19 vaccines, the nation is optimistic that the experiences and manpower acquired from eradicating polio and controlling ebola, will help us in the effective implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, when the vaccines become available.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria is involved in discussions including the African Union Commission to access COVID-19 vaccines. The African Union Commission through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) portfolio has approved approximately 41M doses of a combination of Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines in March/April 2021. Furthermore, the Covax facility has informed us that they will be supplying Nigeria with approximately 16m doses of Astrazeneca vaccine this month. This will replace the earlier communicated 100,000 doses of Pfizer mRNA vaccine, which was grossly inadequate.

“It is pertinent to note that expenses incurred by the Federal Government on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and its accompanying administration processes, is in fact an investment towards strengthening the primary health care system in Nigeria. This is because in the short and long term, it will afford the nation a more capable health workforce, with globally standardized infrastructural improvement that will not only serve in the fight against the COVID-19 disease, but also place the country in a better position to seamlessly undertake routine health services and manage any potential future pandemics. This indeed, is in line with recent observation and recommendations made by our donors and development partners.

The NPHCDA boss however called on Nigerians to avail themselves with the opportunity of getting vaccinated against the disease adding that vaccines remains the only safety and cheapest way of getting the disease off the country.

“Vaccination remains the safest and most effective public health intervention known to man. Throughout history, vaccines have saved millions of lives. According to GAVI, the vaccine alliance, a comprehensive study reveals that over the past 20 years, 37 million deaths were prevented by vaccine programmes in low- and middle-income countries. The preventive quality of vaccines has socio-economic value, as treating the disease burden costs a lot higher than vaccinating against the disease.

In the case of COVID-19, we have seen the ravaging effect of the pandemic on small- and large-scale businesses and our economies in general. Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine will protect you from getting sick from the virus and even if you do get COVID-19, it will prevent you from getting seriously ill and subsequently prevent the need for hospitalization and death. The COVID-19 vaccine therefore proffers hope of an effective way of curbing the spread of the disease and the sooner we are able to protect our communities to return life to normalcy, the better it is for all of us.

“In the meantime, Nigerians are advised to take responsibility for themselves and their loved ones and adhere to the protocols of infection prevention and control, through wearing of facemasks, hand hygiene and physical distancing.

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