Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director. National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), on Friday, stated that investing in procuring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine would not only protect against the virus but also strengthen the nation’s Primary Health Care (PHC) system.
Shuaib, who said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja, added that the engagement of additional healthcare workers to administer the vaccine would ensure non-disruption of routine services.
According to him, the intensive capacity building and the acquisition of new and additional cold chain equipment will, on the other hand, contribute immensely to strengthening the PHC system.
“This holistic approach to health system strengthening, which is driven through the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, is based on global standards and is in line with observations and recommendations recently made by our donors and development partners.
“Any idea or report that says this approach does not prioritise the strengthening of the health system, stems from a lack of complete understanding of the health system and should be disregarded,” he said.
Shuaib said long after the country had overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons learnt, new skills acquired by health workers and the infrastructural improvements would place the country in better stead to manage future pandemics.
He said that Nigeria was appreciative of the global effort, through the COVAX facility, to ensure low and medium-income countries like Nigeria have fair and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Shuaib said that the delay in accessing vaccines meant that eligible countries would have to explore all channels, that could ensure fair prices, safe and effective vaccines for its populace.
“This is why the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, is also engaged with the African Union, through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.
”The Federal Government is committed to securing the much-needed COVID-19 vaccines, taking into consideration safety, efficacy, cost and required logistics, to stop ongoing community transmission of the virus.
“As the country awaits the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine in February, the PTF has called on State governments to put all the necessary logistics in place to ensure a successful vaccination exercise,” he said.
He added that traditional leaders in the country had pledged their support for the COVID-19 vaccine in the country, urging the Federal Government to procure adequate quantities of the vaccine to meet the needs of the country.
“His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto, has also urged Nigerians to get vaccinated as soon as safe, effective and NAFDAC certified vaccines are available,” he said.
Shuaib also stressed the need for Nigerians to disregard rumours about the safety of the vaccine, and rely only on information from credible sources for decision making.