The Nigerian Medical Association, the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives and a coalition of labour and civil society organisations, the Alliance for the Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond, have advised the Federal Government to ensure transparency in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
The NMA, the NANNM and the ASCAB, said on Wednesday that priority should be given to frontline health workers and the aged during the vaccination of Nigerians against deadly coronavirus.
The group said this as Ogun, Oyo, and Cross River states faulted the number of COVID-19 doses allocated to them by the Federal Government.
On its part, the Benue State Government said the issue of allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses ought to have been discussed at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
But Lagos and Oyo states stated that they planned to buy COVID-19 vaccines. All the states said they were not involved in deciding the sharing formula for the vaccine doses.
Recall that the Federal Government had last week, said it was expecting 100,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine before the end of the month.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, who disclosed this on Tuesday last week during a press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the country would later in the year receive 42 million free doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
The NPHCDA, at a webinar on Friday, released the sharing formula for 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
According to the data shared by NPHCDA, the distribution breakdown is as follows Kano, 3,557; Lagos, 3,131; Katsina, 2,361; Kaduna, 2,074; Bauchi, 1,900; Oyo, 1,848; Rivers, 1,766; Jigawa, 1,712; Niger, 1,558; Ogun, 1,473; Sokoto, 1,468; Benue, 1,423; Borno, 1,416; Anambra, 1,379; Kebbi, 1,268; Zamfara, 1,336; Delta, 1,306; Imo, 1,267; Ondo, 1,228; and Akwa Ibom, 1,161.
Others are Adamawa, 1,129; Edo, 1,104; Plateau, 1,089; Enugu, 1,088; Osun, 1,032; Kogi, 1,030; Cross River, 1,023; Abia, 955; Gombe, 908; Yobe, 842; Ekiti, 830; Taraba, 830; Kwara, 815; Ebonyi, 747; Bayelsa, 589; FCT, 695 and Nasarawa, 661.
The NMA National President, Professor Innocent Ujah, in an interview with The PUNCH, advised the Federal Government to ensure openness in the distribution of the vaccine.
Ujah stated that frontline health workers, who are at the risk of the dreaded coronavirus, should be considered first.
He stated, “The issue of openness is very important. Even if the vaccine doses are very few, let Nigerians know that they are appropriately distributed. This will avoid mistrust and anxiety among Nigerians.
“If the vaccine comes, it is appropriate that the frontline health workers who are at the risk should get the first shot.”
Ujah also said the NMA was ready to work with government in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
He, however, said that the association would not impose its members on the Federal Government, but it would accept an invitation from government.
He also said politicians and wealthy Nigerians, who could afford to travel out of the country, could go and take the vaccine abroad.
On his part, the NANNM President, Abdul Rafiu Adeniji, advised the Federal Government to consider first, health workers, the elderly and children.
Adeniji said, “The vaccine is very useful, but limited in supply for now. We must make use of sound judgment in the distribution of the available ones.
“The distribution should start from healthcare professionals because only a safe worker can deliver quality services. The elderly ones who are at the risk should be the next.”
An activist, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin said that government must ensure accountability in distributing of the vaccines. “Travelling out to any part of the world to receive COVID-19 vaccination, by those who can afford it, especially private individuals, should not be an issue of worry, as long as such expenditures are not made the burden of the taxpaying citizens of Nigeria.”
The ASCAB, a coalition led by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, said, “Priority should be given to health workers and the community health centres.”
The General Secretary of the ASCAB, Ade Atambi, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday in Abuja.
But Ogun, Oyo and Cross River state governments faulted the allocations given to them.
The Ogun State Government questioned the rationale behind the Federal Government’s sharing formula for the COVID-19 vaccine doses.
The government said it had expected that the sharing formula should have reflected the locking down of the state together with Lagos and Federal Capital Territory in 2021.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, who stated this on Wednesday said the state government had yet to know the details of the sharing formula and the template that was used.
He said, “That news is just getting to us. Reasons for which the sharing was done we are not in the know. Of course, everybody knows that Lagos is the epicentre and even in the lockdown directive of the Federal Government, you will see that it was a rat race involving Lagos and Ogun states as well as the FCT (the Federal Capital Territory).
“So, why we are not getting as many as we should get, we don’t know, but when the details are out, we will be able to respond accordingly. I want to believe that those people that are there (NPHCDA) know what they are doing. Our reaction will be measured until we see the template adopted and the reason behind the template.
“One would ordinarily have expected that if Ogun State is one of the three (Ogun, FCT and Lagos) seen as critical to the containment of the virus and we were among the three that actually went into the federally-imposed lockdown, anything that has to do with sharing of solutions to this COVID-19 pandemic should also have been reflected in that same manner.”