PSHAN, SANOFI Sign Agreement to Undertake COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Assessment in Nigeria

Oluchi Chibuzor

The Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHAN) and SANOFI have signed an agreement to undertake a 6 months COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Assessment in Nigeria (C19-VHAN).

The study which would be conducted in one state in each of the geopolitical zones in the country would assess and analyse the various vaccine hesitancy factors in Nigeria and provide objective data which could be used to better understand the issue.

Speaking during the sign-off ceremony in Lagos, the Acting CEO, PSHAN, Dr. Tinuola Akinbolagbe, said they have been at the forefront of collaboration with the domestic and international development community, in order to address inequality in access to healthcare services in Nigeria.

She noted that internationally, the development and widespread administration of COVID-19 vaccine had greatly improved the outlook with decreased incidence of the virus, decreased severity of cases and associated deaths.

According to her, “In Nigeria, though we have made considerable progress, with the NPHCDA working in tandem with developmental partners, currently, we have just over 10 per cent of the total population having had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The largest, single factor which prevents Nigeria from recording optimal vaccination rates and associated herd immunity, is vaccine hesitancy.

“Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe. In Nigeria, it is widely believed that our incidence data was under-reported with high probability that many cases went undetected due to limited access to healthcare services.

“It is pertinent to note that the impact of the pandemic extends beyond individual health to public health, human capital and in a broad sense, the overall economic outlook which was greatly affected by the lockdowns and travel restrictions.”

Vaccine hesitancy which refers to a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite the availability of vaccine services, PSHAN agreed has an effect on protecting individual’s health, public health and creating an enabling environment for economic revitalisation.

She emphasised that vaccination programmes have contributed to the decline in mortality and morbidity due to virus adding that hesitancy had prevented the country from recording optimal vaccination rates.

She stated that the 10 months project which entails cross-sectional study conducted in one state in each of the geopolitical zones in Nigeria would aid health actors in Nigeria to design awareness campaigns.

“The PSHAN partnership with Sanofi on the COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Assessment in Nigeria (VHAN) will be conducted over a six-month period. This study will assess and analyse various vaccine hesitancy factors in Nigeria and provide objective data which can be used to better understand this issue.

“Our objective is for the results and information gathered from this study to better inform policymakers, health service providers and other health actors in Nigeria to provide evidence based solutions to effectively upscale and increase vaccine acceptance and immunisation rates for the covid 19 vaccine and indeed other immunisation efforts in Nigeria,” she stated.

Speaking also at the event, the General Manager and Country Lead, SANOFI, Oluwale Akinbowale, said the partnership provides the opportunity for the company to contribute to the shared responsibility of healthcare in Nigeria.

“We believe that healthcare is a shared responsibility and that every stakeholder needs to work together to work on the barriers within the health system and to remove them. Certainly, this is an opportunity to work with a reputable organisation to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy amongst Nigeria.”

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