Ripples Over Nigeria’s Management of COVID-19 Jabs

Ripples Over Nigeria’s Management of COVID-19 Jabs

…As Vaccination Kicks Off …Government Says Transporting Vaccine Will Cost Whooping N10.6Bn …CSOs Calls For Transparency, Accountability In Vaccine Distribution    Even as COVID-19 Vaccination kicks off in Nigeria, with Dr Cyprian Njong being the first to take the jab, there are ripples over the country’s proper management of the 3.9 million doses of COVID-19

…As Vaccination Kicks Off

…Government Says Transporting Vaccine Will Cost Whooping N10.6Bn

…CSOs Calls For Transparency, Accountability In Vaccine Distribution   

Even as COVID-19 Vaccination kicks off in Nigeria, with Dr Cyprian Njong being the first to take the jab, there are ripples over the country’s proper management of the 3.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine donated by COVAX, a World Health Organisation (WHO)-backed initiative set up to procure and ensure equitable distribution of the jabs for free among countries across the world.

With a whooping N10.6 billion being slated by the Nigerian Government, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), to transport COVID-19 vaccine to the 36 states and the 774 local government areas as well as the Federal Capital Territory and the six area councils, according to a report in The Punch, tongues are already wagging on the propriety of this huge cost.

Some civil society organisations have called for transparency in the distribution and administration of the vaccine. ActionAid Nigeria says there has always been a mismatch between what the government claims to have spent and what can be gleaned on the ground. “How can you get vaccines for free and be spending such humungous amount of money to transport it across the country?” queries Adewale Adeduntan, the organisation’s social mobilisation manager.

“We knew a year ago that people were working on this COVID-19 vaccine and that we’ll need to distribute it across the country. How prepared were we given our poor state of infrastructure? Our government is only used to huge expenditure which flies in the face of what it is actually doing,” he quips

Three days after it received the first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Nigeria commenced the vaccination against COVID-19 on Friday at the National Hospital, Abuja, the nation’s capital with the frontline health workers being the first set of people to be vaccinated.

Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, who announced this on Thursday at a presidential briefing held at the State House in Abuja, the nation’s capital. revealed that the President, Muhammadu Buhari, and the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, would also take their vaccine shots a day after the health workers were administered the vaccines.

Members of the Federal Executive Council would also be vaccinated on Monday. They include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, and Ministers among others.

High Enthusiasm

According to the NPHCDA boss, an improved percentage of 50 per cent of Nigerians have indicated willingness to be vaccinated while 25 per cent remain hesitant. He said that the vaccines would not be deployed to any state that has not fulfilled its preparedness criteria.

On Tuesday, Nigeria received its first shipment of 3,924,000 doses of the vaccines from COVAX, a World Health Organisation (WHO)-backed initiative set up to procure and ensure equitable distribution of vaccines for free among countries across the world. The vaccines arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja at about noon via an Emirates airplane from India.

Ahead of the distribution, the government had said the vaccines would be administered in the order of priority, with the frontline health workers on the top of the list.

Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, told Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, that the government would also consider the elderly and the strategic leaders in the country – such as the President and other key public office holders.

Huge Transportation Cost

According to The Punch report, the Nigerian Government, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, has budgeted the sum of N10.6bn to transport COVID-19 vaccine to the 36 states and the 774 local government areas as well as the Federal Capital Territory and the six area councils.

Also, about N1.4bn was set aside for the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment while N373m was earmarked for the purchase of Adverse Events Following Immunisation kits otherwise known as AEFI kits.

This is according to a document obtained by Saturday PUNCH on Friday, which was presented to the 36 Governors during a meeting between representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Governors Forum on Thursday.

The document titled, ‘Estimated Budget for States Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines (end-to-end),’ showed that Kano State, which has 44 local government areas, has the highest budget for transportation at N685.4m while N558.6m will be spent on distributing the vaccines to Lagos State, which is the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About N476m would be spent on distributing vaccines in the President’s home state of Katsina while N396.3m will be spent in Oyo State.

Bayelsa, which has just eight local government areas, has the lowest budget for vaccine transportation which is N121m.

The total amount of money earmarked for the transportation of vaccine, procurement of Personal Protective Equipment, AEFI kits and sensitisation was summed up at N12.7bn.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on December 22, 2020 told the Senate that the Federal Government would need about N400bn to vaccinate 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population.

The Senate leadership subsequently asked Ehanire to bring a budget while they promised to give it quick consideration.

However, it was learnt that as of Friday, no supplementary budget had been sent to the National Assembly.

2.3 Million Registered

The NPHCDA), says that about 2.3 million Nigerians have registered for the Covid-19 vaccination, 24 hours after the opening of registration on its portal.

Following the arrival of about 3.92 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, on Tuesday, Dr. Shuaib, the NPHCDA executive director said about 2.3 million Nigerians registered for the COVID-19 vaccinations in less than 24 hours.

Shuaib who made this known during a virtual meeting held in Abuja, Wednesday, said, “I can tell you that there is a lot of excitement. Although some people have raised their concerns and we are trying to address them, but the enthusiasm is in less than 24 hours that the portal was launched, we have recorded about 2.3 million Nigerians who have registered to be vaccinated and the number continues to grow.”

Speaking on the delivery of the second batch of the vaccine to Nigeria, Shuaib said the agency has began work already, adding that the next doses of vaccine will be received in May.

Other Vaccine Doses

In his words: “The balance of 12 million doses will be arriving in batches between now and the month of May. The COVAX facilities as we are all aware and ground-breaking establishment involving Gavic Alliance for Immunization and WHO is to make sure that there is equitable access to vaccines globally.

“In terms of what to do additionally to get the rest of the population vaccinated, right now, about 22.9 million AstraZeneca Oxford vaccines are in place and about 18 million doses of Johnson and Johnson will be procured. The next consignment of vaccine from Africa Union is the 41 million which will start coming in from March to April and May.”

Calls for Transparency

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and ActionAid International have urged the Federal government to ensure transparency and accountability in the distribution of Covid-19 Vaccines.

CISLAC in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa said the Ministry of Health and NPHCDA must ensure that representatives of the media and civil society organizations are carried along in the distribution and vaccination process.

The Centre which recalled that the distribution of the COVID-19 Palliatives was fraught with anomalies including diversion and hoarding that showed traits of abuse of power, warned that nepotism, corruption and the abuse of power in the vaccination process will be revealed to the authorities and the public.

While stressing that verifiable data of vaccinated people must be pro-actively disclosed, CISLAC urged the Federal government to include credible Civil Society Organisations, the international community representatives and media into the monitoring of the vaccination process.

It explained that the measure will encourage accountability, transparency and will prevent future scandals and reputational damage at times when Nigeria and the world request hundreds of millions of vaccines critical for ending the pandemic.

Online Registration Portal

ActionAid Nigeria in a release by Country Director, Ene Obi notes that, “Though the Federal Government of Nigeria has set up online registration portal and house to house registration for administration of the doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccinations received on March 2nd 2021, the strategy to ensure the country ‘Leave no one behind’ is still sketchy as the negative myths on the vaccines has continued to thrive.”

The organisation expresses concern that, “The cases of COVID-19 have continued to spiral in the country. Despite the COVID-19 Disease Health Protection 2021 law which mandates the use of face mask in public places, citizens are yet to fully comply to the COVID-19 protocols, as Nigerians are seen on the streets and at markets without facemasks.”

“Impromptu  regulations such as NIN registration has put many Nigerians on the edge and at risk of contracting the deadly virus, as overcrowding has been reported for many months running, at many registration outlets,” ActionAid says..

No Jab for Me

But few hours after Nigeria kicked-off its vaccination against the deadly coronavirus infection in the national capital Abuja Friday, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has said he will not take the vaccine, neither will he force the citizens of his state to take the jab because they are not, according to him, “guinea pigs.”

Bello who spoke on Friday’s edition of Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ said, “COVID-19 is not our business in Kogi State. We have more pertinent issues and more pertinent matters that we are attending to in Kogi State. Insecurity we met, we’ve tackled it and several others. Disunity we met on ground and we have united Kogi State today not COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is just a minute aspect of what we are treating or handling in Kogi State; there have been outbreaks of Lassa Fever and Yellow Fever and those were handled without making noise about it.

“The last Yellow Fever (outbreak), we vaccinated out people against Yellow Fever, we encouraged them, we educated them and they felt the impact…If the Federal Government is gracious enough and give us COVID-19 vaccines, we will equally sensitise our people, people who wish to come and take can come and take but I am not going to subject the people of Kogi State to vaccines or vaccination and I will not make them the guinea pigs.

“Mr President is the leader of this country. I respect him so high; all of us respect him so much. We love him and he is leading by example. If he needs to take the vaccines and he takes it, it is a welcome development.

“As far as I am concerned, I as a person, I don’t need to take vaccines. There is nothing wrong with me, I am hale and hearty. I am 100 per cent healthy…I won’t take any vaccine.”

Some health workers including the first Nigerian to receive the vaccine on the country’s soil, Dr. Cyprian Ngong of the National Hospital, Abuja, received shots of the vaccines when the exercise was flagged off by the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, on Friday in Abuja.

Meanwhile,  President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as well as some governors are also expected to receive shots of the vaccines on Saturday to encourage Nigerians.

Additional COVID-19 Cases

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recorded 16 additional COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total number of deaths from the disease since its outbreak in the country to 1,939.

The NCDC made the disclosure on its official Twitter handle late on Wednesday.

Nigeria has so far recorded a total of 156, 963 confirmed cases of the disease, out of which 135,831 cases have been discharged across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The NCDC disclosed that the total number of active coronavirus cases was now standing at 19,212 after a decrease of 401 in the past 24 hours.

The agency also reported 464 new COVID-19 infections from 21 states and the FCT in the past 24 hours.

Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub remains the epicentre of the virus, recording 131 of the 464 new cases. Kaduna State followed with 69 cases, Akwa Ibom clinched the third position with 33 infections, Imo recorded 31 cases while Kastina State reported 30 cases. Kano State recorded 26 cases, Ondo State followed with 23, Yobe 20, FCT 18, Ogun 13, Rivers 12 and Kebbi 11 cases. Nine of the cases were recorded in Ekiti, six cases each in Osun and Oyo States, Borno, Gombe and Plateau recorded five cases each.

Similarly, Edo reported four cases, Abia and Delta had three cases each while Zamfara reported one case.

The public health agency also reported that the country recorded a total of 135,831 recoveries and discharges since the outbreak of the disease with 1,280 new discharges in the past 24 hours.

NCDC noted that its latest discharge, included 229 community recoveries in Lagos State, 144 in Imo and 45 in Akwa Ibom.

It added that three previously confirmed cases in Nasarawa State were omitted from the cumulative report.

The agency said that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre, activated at Level 3, had continued to coordinate national response activities in the country.

 

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