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, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Wednesday, said 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, advised the Federal Government to ensure openness in the distribution of the vaccine.
Vaccinate health workers first —NMA
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 the 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, told The PUNCH that the government must ensure accountability in distributing of the vaccines.
She said, “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, Mr. 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, said these on Wednesday while speaking with one of our correspondents.
Hazzan 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.”
Oyo’s allocation inadequate, we will get additional vaccines – State govt
The Oyo State Government said vaccine doses allocated to the state by the Federal Government were not inadequate.
The state Governor, Seyi Makinde, said alternative provisions would be made for additional vaccines to be procured for the state.
The governor who spoke to one of our correspondents through his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, said, “We don’t have a vaccine yet in Nigeria so, the allocation was made on paper ahead of its availability in the country. The governor said this evening that the number that is projected to be given to Oyo is grossly inadequate and that the state is going to make alternative arrangements.
“The state would talk to alternative manufacturers of vaccines and make direct procurement where possible. With 1,800 vaccines, if a person is injected with two dozes, only 900 people would get. When you look at this in consideration of the population of Oyo State, what percentage would that be? That is why the state needs to open discussion with other manufacturers of certified vaccines.”
Cross River’s allocation, not enough – Commissioner
The Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said doses of COVID-19 vaccine allocated to the state would not be enough for its over 5,000 health workers
She, “The sharing was done based on places considered to be hot spots. More concentration was on Lagos, Abuja and other hot spots in the country.
“Cross River has very few cases. However, the vaccine that would be sent is definitely not enough. It cannot even go round our health workers. We will be seeking more.”
Lagos to get COVID-19 vaccine doses says commissioner
But the Lagos State Government said it was making efforts to get COVID-19 vaccine doses for residents aside from the arrangement being made for the country by the Federal Government.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, stated this while reacting to the sharing formula released by the NPHCDA.
Omotosho, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, said the state government was surprised at seeing the allocations to different states.
He said, “Nobody has involved us in what the national vaccine strategy would be. So, all these are new to us. We have not heard anything from the Federal Government; there has been no directive. But whatever they give us, we will take.
“We are also working on getting our own independently. No matter what happens, the safety of Lagosians is our priority. Whatever it will take, the government will ensure that when the vaccine arrives, Lagosians are not left out.
Also, the Benue State Commissioner for Information, Mrs Ngunan Adingi, said that the state had yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine distribution list.
Adingi, in a chat with The PUNCH, said, “We have not received any vaccine in the state neither have we been given distribution list of the vaccine.
It wasn’t discussed at govs’ forum – Benue commissioner
“If anything of such is going to happen, I know that it has to be discussed at Governors Forum and this has not happened. I just called the Commissioner for Health and he told me that nothing of such has happened.”
Over 20 doctors infected with COVID-19 at UITH – ARD
Meanwhile, no fewer than 20 doctors have been infected with COVID-19 at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital in the last three to four weeks.
The President of the UITH chapter of Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Badmus Habeeb, stated this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday.
But the management of UITH said that it was not aware of the development.
The Deputy Public Relations Officer of the Hospital, Mr Biodun Fagbemi, said, “The management is not aware that any doctor in the hospital has contracted COVID-19, honestly we are not aware.”
But Badmus insisted that members of the association were battling with the pandemic.
He stated, “Over 20 of our members have been infected with the virus in the past three to four weeks. In fact, they could even be more than that. Some actually tested positive and have proceeded to isolation in their homes while others are on admission at the state isolation centre, Sobi, Ilorin.
“We are happy that we have not lost any of them. Some have been treated others are still on admission. We keep on reminding our members to always remember to keep to preventive measures and those that are on admission we support them psychologically and give them medical assistance.”
Also confirming the infection, former President of the ARD in the hospital, Dr Lanre Olosunde said, “We are lucky that we don’t have any mortality, but some are still on admission.”