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NPHCDA receives 3m additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Italy

Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), on Monday in Abuja, received over three million single-shot COVID-19 vaccines, donated by the Italian government.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that with the 17 million doses earlier sent by other EU Member States, the three million brings the number of doses gifted to Nigeria by EU Member States to 20 million, representing 61 per cent of all donated vaccines received by Nigeria through the COVAX facility.

Also in February, the Nigerian Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health and NPHCDA, formally rolled out the administration of J&J vaccine across the country, rapidly improving coverage.

Delivering the vaccines, the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stefano De Leo, stated that “Italy remains committed, along with other European Union members, to support Nigeria’s vaccine needs, with the aim to help to expand global vaccine coverage.

“Providing single-shot vaccines reduces logistical challenges and ensures a faster achievement of Nigeria’s Government vaccination goals.”

De Leo stressed the efficiency of working through multilateral platforms, and highlighted the efforts of Team Europe, which have pledged to donate 700 million doses worldwide by mid-2022.

The Head of Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, Amb. Samuela Isopi, said: “The EU’s action against COVID-19 does not stop at its borders.”

Isopi said that since 2021, as Team Europe, the EU and its member states have given more than 20 million COVID-19 doses to Nigeria through COVAX.

“By acting together, guided by the principles of solidarity and multilateralism, we can collectively overcome COVID-19.

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“Today’s donation is in furtherance of Team Europe’s contribution towards a resilient and healthy population because we understand that health is central to the development of any country,” she said.

She said that the European Union and its Member States have made COVID-19 vaccine dose-sharing one of their priorities to ensure worldwide equitable access to safe and efficient vaccines.

“A key step in this journey was the Global Health Summit convened in Rome by the Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, and EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, on 21 May 2021.

“This very first G20 summit on health marked the beginning of a new chapter in global health policy. Overall, under the Italian presidency, the G20 members committed to accelerate the vaccination campaign globally to reach 70 per cent of the world population by mid-2022.

“The EU and its Member States are so far the biggest donor of COVID-19 vaccines in the world, having shared over 500 million doses for donation to countries around the world, via COVAX and bilaterally.

“Italy has pledged US$ 470 million to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (Gavi COVAX AMC) and has provided additional specific funding and doses to priority countries,” she added.

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, commended the Italian Government for these donations which are in line with the global call for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“It is also a reflection of the sincerity and commitment of the Government of Italy and European delegates to the global efforts in halting this pandemic for nations of the world to return to their normal way of life.

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“Let me assure you Your Excellencies, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, that these vaccines, like all other vaccines we have in-country will be judiciously utilized, as we have instituted accountability in the COVID-19 vaccination programme to ensure efficient use of all available resources,” he said.

Shuaib reiterated the fact that the country have adequate quantity of COVID-19 vaccines across all country for every eligible person in Nigeria.

“This is to assure all Nigerians, our donors, and partners, that we are committed to equitable and effective COVID-19 vaccination.

“I therefore urge all persons aged 18 years and above, including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, to take advantage of the availability of these vaccines to get vaccinated.

“All COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria are free, safe, effective and protects you, your family and community against COVID-19,” he said.

According to the NPHCDA boss, as of April 11, 2022, we have fully vaccinated 13,588,718 persons which is approximately 12.2 per cent of our total eligible population.

“Meanwhile, 23,012,700 Nigerians have received their first dose which represents 18% of the total eligible population. We have also intensified our technical support to the states to ramp up the vaccination coverage.

“We are currently supporting the states to finalize their micro plans which we believe will further strengthen accountability in the utilization and management of available resources and increase uptake based on locally acceptable methods and standards,” he said.

Shuaib added to ensure that Nigeria fully utilizes the COVID-19 vaccination programme in strengthening the primary health care system by using routine immunization as entry point, the current strategic approach for delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, known as optimized SCALES 2.0 strategy, entails the integration of COVID-19 Vaccines with the current implementation.

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“This means that parents and caregivers with children or Wards aged zero to two years, are encouraged to bring their children along to the COVID-19 vaccination site where childhood vaccines are available. While the adult receives COVID-19 vaccines, the children are assessed for the antigen they are due for and vaccinated.

“This will make the vaccination exercise more family friendly. We believe this will further motivate eligible persons, including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO, Country Representative, said that the donation is another remarkable example of global solidarity in action to end this pandemic.

Mulombo said that WHO, as a key partner, would like to thank the Italian Government for this great contribution, while noting that vaccination is still the best defence against COVID-19.

He noted that the country’s mass vaccination campaigns have continued to produce results.

“The SCALES 2.0 is aimed at providing an opportunity for the single dose COVID-19 vaccine to be rolled out in the states. The donated vaccines will go a long way in boosting the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination in the country.

“Available data shows that the introduction of the single dose vaccine has provided the opportunity for more eligible persons to be fully vaccinated,” he said.