Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Africa best so far, says WHO

JUNE 2, 2021

By Moses Emorinken, Abuja

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday ranked Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout as the best in Africa in terms of storage and utilisation of the covid-19 vaccines for its population.

It noted that although Africa has not received its fair share of vaccines owing to global vaccine shortages, many African countries cannot still utilise their vaccines before they expire. It stated that many countries are now looking up to Nigeria to learn how to better roll out vaccination programmes.

WHO Country Representative Dr. Kazadi Mulombo spoke during a joint news briefing on COVID-19 vaccination update of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), WHO and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Abuja.

He said: “More than 1.8 billion vaccines are being distributed globally as of today, mostly in 10 countries. Africa is lagging behind, but even though Africa is lagging behind, Nigeria is among the countries that are distributing the most covid-19 vaccine as we speak. In terms of volume, we are still a long way to go because we plan to vaccinate more than 100 million of our population.

“In Africa, we are witnessing a kind of paradox. While on the one hand, the continent has received less of its share in terms of vaccines through the COVAX facility and other mechanisms. At the same time, we have a number of African countries that are losing the vaccines because they expired before they could be used. Some are redistributing the vaccines elsewhere. So, it is kind of sending a contradictory message about the need for vaccines to end the acute phase of the pandemic.

“There are some strategies that are being devised to prevent the loss of vaccines required under difficult circumstances. I am glad to say here that among most of the strategies that the Africa regional office of WHO is advocating for in terms of minimising the risk of losing the vaccine come from Nigeria.

“The experience of engaging with strategic leaders, doing the weekly press briefing and continuous risk communication with the beneficiaries; all these engagements securing those for the second dose, while including other groups that were not included in the first phase are being shared today as best practices in terms of averting expiry of the covid-19 vaccine.

“This is to say that on the African continent, many countries are now looking at Nigeria to learn how to better roll out vaccination programmes. WHO has challenged all the member states to ensure that by September, we vaccinate at least 10 per cent of our population.

SOURCE: THE NATION

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