Civil society organizations in Nigeria have called on the federal government and other relevant stakeholders to prioritize the need for the country to commence the production of its own vaccines.
They made the disclosure at the celebration of the 2022 World Immunization/Africa Vaccination Week organized by the Vaccine Network for Disease Control and Centre for Accountability
and Inclusive Development (CAAID).
The program was supported by Pfizer, and also the introduction of Pfizer Vaximate, a reminder app that ensures vaccinations are done in good time.
According to the organizers, this year’s event was held to commemorate the ten years anniversary of the national vaccine summit and its impact on the Nigerian society since its inception.
Speaking at the event, Hon Muhammad Usman, Chairman, National Advocates For Health & Chairman Lafiya Wealth Initiative stated that Nigeria has been proven to be committed to the course of getting its citizens immunized with vaccines.
Citing the eradication of Polio as an example, Hon Usman stated that as of 2020 immunization coverage in Nigeria had increased to 50 percent.
When asked if there are plans in place for legislation to mandate Nigerians to get immunized, he stated” that the multi-religious nature of the Nigerian society has always been a hindrance over the years which is why it has been left at being at the discretion of individuals to get vaccinated.”
He however stated that he is not pleased with the fact that Nigeria still relies on donors and foreign aid to get vaccines.
Hon. Usman stated that there is a need for the government to fund scientific research organizations to solve the puzzle of producing locally-made vaccines.
Similarly, Dr. Amina Aminu Dorayi, the country director for Pathfinder International stated there is a need for Nigeria to address the issue of hesitancy from its citizens so as to foster the general distribution of vaccines.
She stated that the issue of hesitancy from Nigerians has always been a challenge and that there should be strategic plans in place to further sensitize Nigerians with the right information required for them to get vaccinated.
Also speaking with journalists, the Chief Executive Officer at Vaccine Network for Disease Control, Mrs. Chika Offor said Nigeria at a point in time started the production of yellow fever vaccines that had a 98 percent efficacy.
She added that there is a need to reintroduce the same energy and commence the production of vaccines in earnest.
Mrs. Offor also urged that precautionary and proactive measures should be given primary consideration to avoid the reincarnation of polio in Nigeria.
“Sensitization campaign should be taken seriously to intimate Nigerians about the need to get vaccinated and also finish their vaccination schedule.”
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of the Centre for Accountability and Inclusive Development(CAAID) Aanu Rotimi said vaccine financing is still a challenge.
She noted that there is a need for government to show more commitment to vaccine production.
“There are still gaps identified within the commitment to introduce new vaccines, adulthood vaccines and country ownership of vaccines. We need to address gaps in vaccine production, and we need to do it urgently”.
” We want the government to implement one of the commitments it made at the Vaccine Summit which entails vaccine research and development, as well as local production of vaccines.”
She added that there is a need for the country to monitor major milestones in the area of vaccine production and also identify areas for major innovations.
The immediate past Executive secretary of the FCT Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Iwot Ndaeyo, who also spoke to newsmen said Nigeria must prioritize the distribution of vaccines to communities that need the service.
Iwot stated that a major challenge hindering distribution has always been the mobilization of personnel who will distribute and administer the vaccines.
He said Nigeria spends a lot of money to get personnel whereas in the western world families and individuals volunteer to oversee the distribution and administration of vaccines.
“The operational cost for vaccine delivery is so high, and yet we are swinging from bottom to up and up to bottom and our data is not totally dependable. So we have got to do more and I hope moving from today things will get better.”