The Federal Government has revealed that Nigeria is yet to meet its 2021 target of vaccinating 70 per cent of all eligible population against the COVID-19 disease by 2022.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the first quarter review meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) on primary healthcare delivery today (February 9, 2023) in Abuja, the executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib said the government was ready to vaccinate 70 per cent of its population before the end of 2022 but, as of February 7, 2023, only 68 per cent of it’s COVID-19 eligible population had been vaccinated.
Recall that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman, PSC on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha in December 2021, disclosed that the country has invested in enough vaccines sufficient for over 70 per cent of the country’s eligible population before the end of 2022.
According to Mustapha, the vaccines were safe and efficacious, hence better and safer for Nigerians to be vaccinated against this virus.
Shuaib thanked the NTLC for its support for primary health care services, while reiterating that the fight against COVID-19 was not over until the country attains 70 per cent target coverage of vaccination.
He further said the country needs to look beyond reducing the numbers of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) by over 90 per cent to get down to zero, adding that the target for 2023 is not further reduction, but getting it to zero.
The NPHCDA further called on states and local community leaders to improve their routine immunisation to eradicate all forms of disease outbreaks.
While appreciating the role of NTLC, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire outlined that the gains made over the years in PHC service delivery are largely attributed to the role of traditional leaders.
Ehanire said that routine immunisation is a standard service of PHCs and is free, safe, effective and available across the country.
“Parents and caregivers need to be mobilised to ensure that children receive the vaccine according to the Nigerian’s routine immunisation schedule,” he said.
He observed that the country has made steady progress in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign and that over 66 million persons have been vaccinated so far, bringing the reach to 68 per cent.
“Although there is progress, there are pockets of rejections of misconceptions about the vaccines.
“This only means that there are persons out there who are aware of how vaccines work, hence there’s a need for us to strengthen our sensitisation to our communities to ensure everyone is vaccinated,” he said.
According to him, the coming administration needs to invest heavily in the primary health care system as 60 per cent of all ailments according to real estimates can be handled at the primary care level.
The minister said a shift away from PHC is seen more to be the reason progress is not made due to a lack of adequate attention and investment.
He emphasized the need to strengthen the country’s health system and urged traditional leaders to recommit themselves to stopping the transmission of all forms of viruses, especially polio, which has been a major concern.
His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto, said that the NTLC would continue to work closely with the FMOH and the NPHCDA.
The Sultan of Sokoto, who was represented by HRH, Alhaji Haliru Ndansua Yahaya, the Emir of Shonga, said the review meetings were necessary for exchanging ideals and would also provide an avenue to learn more.
“We await the reports from the just concluded 39th Expert Review Committee (ERC) meeting on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunisation in Nigeria (ERC).
He assured that the NTLC would work with its recommendations on routine immunisation intensification and polio outbreak response in the country.
Meanwhile, the chairman of NTLC and Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Mera hailed the review sessions as an opportunity to reflect on achievements and bottlenecks in the ongoing efforts to create demand for PHC services.
He stated that the objective of the meeting is to review the progress and the role played by traditional leaders in primary health care delivery at the grassroots.