Health professionals allege variation in FG’s vaccination plan


• ECOWAS Parliament urges members to dispel conspiracy theories
Medical practitioners have alleged departure by the Federal Government from its vaccination plan prior to the arrival of the four million AstraZeneca vaccines in Nigeria.

They ventilated at a webinar, organised by Yiaga Africa to review emerging issues and challenges in vaccine distribution and proffer solutions.

Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) National Committee on Infectious Diseases, Dr. Sanusi Muhammed, claimed that the original order of vaccinating frontline workers first had been abandoned in the ongoing nationwide exercise.

He pointed out that the idea of vaccinating frontline health workers first was due to their high contracting rate on account of regular contact with patients, stating: “They have to be protected first, so that they can be confident to provide healthcare and services.”

Muhammed added: “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. That will reduce the burden of the disease and mortality.”

On issue of misinformation and misconception raised in the policy brief released by Yiaga Africa, he said the vaccine fallacies were not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that many countries have since backtracked on decisions to suspend the injection.

The chairman called for a review of Nigeria’s health indices and declare a state of emergency on the sector, noting: “COVID-19 (has) exposed health systems across the world.”

He continued: “A lot of things have to be put in place. Issue of brain drain, issue of remuneration of health workers. Nigeria is one of the countries paying the least.

It is paying less than $10 (N5,000) as health hazard allowances. This has been the case with previous diseases like Ebola and Lassa fever. But COVID-19 has exposed this issue even more and shows that we need to do more in terms of manpower, infrastructure and also the basic life-saving.”

Muhammed urged the National Assembly to speed up passage of the Infectious Diseases Bill, explaining that the piece of legislation would improve monitoring across the federation.

Echoing similar concerns, former National Chairman of the NMA’s Health Advocacy Committee, Dr. Henry Ewunonu, said he had seen citizens, who were neither health workers nor elderly, receiving the jabs in the first week of vaccination.

He implored government to be transparent and accountable for increased private sector’s support.

IN a related development, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, has advised his colleagues to assist governments in dispelling the toxic theories around the vaccine.

Describing the doses as “a stunning discovery, scientific achievement and a much-needed source of hope, the Speaker, at the opening of the five-day 2021 First Extraordinary Session of the body holding in Freetown, Sierra Leone, said it would require the efforts of everyone to educate constituents on the safety and benefits of vaccination.

By Matthew Ogune and Oludare Richards, Abuja

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