NURSES yesterday warned that inadequate medical personnel could jeopardise the efforts of the federal and state governments to administer COVID-19 vaccines on Nigerians.
They spoke just as the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) announced the composition of a committee to oversee the procurement and administration of the vaccines, whose first shipment is expected to arrive in the country by February ending.
National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwife (NANNM) President, Mr. Abdul Adeniji, told the media that the country does not have adequately trained manpower to administer the vaccines on a large scale.
“In the first instance, the federal government said that when planning a health programme of this nature professional associations ought to be involved at the beginning. It is not at the implementation stage that you try to bring us in. You plan for us. You plan with us but this is missing. That is challenge number one.
Continuing, “the second challenge is how adequate is the planning for the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines in the country? It is not just a vaccine for polio or tuberculosis; it is a special one. “Do we even have adequate hands? I say no. We don’t also have adequate equipment to carry out the vaccination programme.”
Adeniji also identified the possibility of resistance to the vaccines by the people as another major threat to the vaccination programme.
According to him, the acceptability of vaccines, manpower, and assurance of availability of enough doses of the vaccines are critical to a successful vaccination campaign.
“The introduction of vaccines is usually a collaborative engagement between the national, state, and local government areas but as regards this issue of COVID-19 vaccines, the challenge is about its acceptability by the people.
“The acceptability of that therapy is very important. The ethical constitution is that the vaccines have to first be accepted by the people in the area before the health workers step in to administer it,” he said.
Adeniji added that there are still doubts among many Nigerians over the existence of COVID-19, warning that this will create apathy amongst the citizens when the vaccination begins.
However, reacting to the concerns raised by NANNM, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, told THISDAY that the federal government acknowledged that lack of personnel may hinder the successful implementation of the vaccination programme and is planning to recruit more health workers to fill the gap. “We do not have adequate health workers in most PHCs across the country. So, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines would be an added burden.
“This is why part of the Presidential Taskforce on Control of COVID-19 (PTF) and the Federal Ministry of Health’s plan for the deployment of vaccines is to not only provide the vaccines but to recruit additional health workers to ensure that the vaccines are delivered successfully to eligible Nigerians.” Shuaib said.
On the position expressed by NANNM that its members are not involved in the vaccine rollout plan, Shuaib identified the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria under Emmanuel Udontre as the one representing the nursing and midwifery team in the COVID-19 Technical Working Group at NPHCDA.
Meanwhile, governors have set up a committee on the procurement and administration of the vaccines.
In a communiqué issued yesterday after a meeting that ended on Wednesday night, the 36 state governors also dissociated themselves from the comments of their Kogi State counterpart, Mr. Yahaya Bello, that the vaccines are meant to kill.
The NGF communiqué signed by the Chairman of the forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said following the presentations, the forum set up a team of experts led by Professor Oyewale Tomori to advise state governors on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines in the country.
Fayemi also briefed the governors on a meeting with the Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on the rollout of the COVAX facility, which is a global risk-sharing mechanism co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to facilitate pooled procurement and the equitable distribution of the vaccines to developing countries.
“Nigeria is among 12 countries in Africa that have indicated the readiness of the 92 qualified countries for the facility and will by end of February 2021 receive its first shipment of vaccines,” the communiqué stated.
The communiqué also said the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, updated the governors on the eligibility criteria for the 2020 States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Annual Performance Assessment (APA), which requires in part that all state governments prepare their FY2021 budgets in line with the National Chart of Accounts (minimum of administrative, economic and function classifications) and that the budgets are approved by their state Houses of Assembly, assented by governors, and published online by 31st January 2021.
“The governor stated that all states have already met the second part of the eligibility criteria by publishing an IPSAS-compliant 2019 audited financial statement online by August last year. He encouraged states to take advantage of the technical assistance being provided by the NGF secretariat on the domestication of the national chart of accounts,” it said.