Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said about 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available in the country to immunise 40 per cent of the population this year.
This, he said, was part of measures being put in place to combat the deadly virus this year, adding that another batch of 60 million doses will arrive in the country in 2022.
Fayemi gave the details yesterday while delivering a paper: ‘The role of Nigeria’s State Governments in Recovery: Responses to COVID-19 -linked Challenges” at the Chatham House Africa Programme in London.
The conference was moderated by Elizabeth Donnelly, Deputy Director and Research Fellow, Africa Programme, Chatham House.
Fayemi, at the virtual conference, which held via Zoom, said the number of vaccines being expected was released by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), during a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) last week.
He, however, said that beyond the government’s procurement of vaccines, the NGF has remained a strong proponents of the utilisation of public-private partnership in vaccines procurement as a means of closing the gap between what is available and what is necessary to achieve herd immunity.
He explained that the country has conducted about 1.3 million tests of which 131,242 persons (10 per cent) tested positive for the virus with a case fatality rate of 1.2 per cent.
He said: “As at today, Nigeria has tested 1.3m persons for COVID-19, with 10 per cent (131,242) of these confirmed positive. Compared with the global and Africa’s Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 2.2 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively, Nigeria has fared better with a CFR of 1.2 per cent.
“Six states (Lagos, FCT, Plateau, Kaduna, Oyo and Rivers) have contributed 70 per cent of confirmed cases, with Lagos the commercial nerve of the country, contributing about 40 per cent of the total burden. Data indicates that men appear to be disproportionately affected accounting for 69 per cent of the confirmed cases. Most cases occur in people aged 31-40 years.”
Discussing efforts of the government at minimising the effect of the pandemic on public health and economic growth, Fayemi said the private sector through Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) collaborated with the state and federal governments in raising more than $75 million to provide medical supplies, equipment, isolation and treatment centres and food for the vulnerable.
This, he said, was in addition to the expansion of laboratories services across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory and training of about 45,000 health workers across the country on infection, prevention and control measures.
“On prevention, we continue to communicate and inform the public on the need to adhere to safety protocols and provide the necessary information to improve awareness about the disease. Both at the federal and state levels, messages to increase awareness about the pandemic, safety protocols to be taken and how/where to get treated are constantly published on print and electronic media.
“We are also on the offensive with respect to ensuring people comply with the safety protocols in place. Only last week, Mr. President signed the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations, which provided guidance on gatherings, operations in public places, mandatory compliance with treatment protocols, penalties and enforcement.
“When Nigeria reported its first case in late February 2020, only four laboratories in the country could test for COVID-19. By October 2020, testing capacity had expanded to over 70 laboratories across the 36+1 states. The scale-up of laboratory services was important given the size of the country and the need to rapidly obtain results for suspected cases. As at December 2020, more than 45,000 health workers have been trained across the country on infection prevention and control measures,” he said.
Fayemi also stressed the need to shift the approach from emergency response to strengthening the sustainability of the country health system and the need to utilise the potential to produce approved vaccines in Nigeria and gain a better level of independence in the area of vaccine research.
He called for increased investment in health security and public health emergencies by state governments with recommendation on the need for each state to establish its own Centre for Disease Control.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps our biggest lesson around this, as the pandemic has affected all spheres of the economy. Nigeria now has a National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) that includes a multi-sectorial approach to prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks,” he added.