The Federal Government is to engage the Nigeria Governors’ Forum on mass vaccination of citizens. It restated the December 1 deadline for federal civil servants to take the COVID-19 vaccines.
The government also warned that vaccination records/certificates would be verified to detect unscrupulous citizens who procure such cards through the black market, threatening prosecution.
In the meantime, the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 has assured Nigerians that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has sufficient vaccines in the pipeline to vaccinate about 50 per cent of the target population by the end of January next year, just as efforts are also ongoing to bring on board the booster dose to build a stronger level of anti-bodies.
The PSC Chairman and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, gave the updates yesterday at the regular COVID-19 briefing of the panel in Abuja.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, noted that Nigeria had made tremendous strides in building its capacity to prevent, detect and respond to diseases of public health importance.
BESIDES, the NPHCDA, yesterday, said it had begun a nationwide “Operation Verify Your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Online” to check fraud and enhance the integrity of the exercise.
The Executive Director, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, who made the disclosure at the briefing, vowed that the agency would invalidate all COVID-19 vaccination cards illegally obtained by unvaccinated people during the operation.
ALSO yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari said the rapid expansion of public and private laboratories for testing assisted the nation greatly in managing the pandemic accurately, effectively and safely.
Addressing the second Regional Annual Scientific Conference and Induction of Elected Fellows of the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science (WAPCMLS), in Abuja, the President, who was represented by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, observed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) assisted in training Nigerian scientists for improved capacity to conduct the test and achieve the feat.
He said with “all the assets we have and the training and skills, we must dedicate ourselves to productivity to show that we can do more.”
Buhari stated that with the support of development partners, the Federal Government had strengthened laboratory capacity in the country.
In his own contribution, Ehanire, who was represented by the Director of Hospital Services, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi, said the theme of the conference, ‘Improving Global Health by Strengthening Laboratory Capacity in Africa,’ was apt, adding that the most populous black nation could not have effectively managed the virus without increasing the number of laboratories for accurate detection and treatment.
The minister pointed out that at the onset of disease, very few laboratories had the capacity to conduct molecular testing, a methodology that has overtaken traditional methods of identifying organisms.
The professor of virology and chairman of the occasion, Oyewale Tomori, submitted that there were no “need building laboratories if we can not sustain them.”
He added: “It is better for us to have six functional laboratories than having many that are not functional.”
Tomori advised that every state should have a disease control centre, stating: “It should not be the responsibility of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to start running around over pandemic. The only time they should be up and doing is when there is an international pandemic.”
WAPCMLS President, Prof. Nafiu Amidu, urged that the lessons of COVID- 19 should “strengthen us to equip our health facilities for future challenges.”
He continued: “We should ensure good laboratory practice. This is a bold step towards ensuring quality and best practices. The time is right to ensure training so as to meet up with global challenges.”