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COVID-19: N10bn approved for vaccines production trapped in Finance Ministry, says Ehanire

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.Assures of local production, partners Indian company to establish  plant

 

 

By AKOR SYLVESTER-Abuja

 

 

The federal government has cleared air on the N10 billion earmarked by the National Assembly for the local manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, saying the money is untouched and with finance ministry.

 

The Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire, who dropped the hint at a Ministerial Briefing on the Update of COVID-19 Response and Development in the Health Hector in Abuja, said  modalities have been put in place to use the fund for local production of vaccines to fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Ehanire disclosed that already, the country is collaboratting with the international health regulations on the importance of epidemic preparedness.

 

He said, “therefore, the aspiration to produce vaccines has not been fulfilled. It is not that it is abandoned, we are working on it and I have spoken with one of the members of the board of management of the bio-vaccine and we are working on getting that technology to both produce routine vaccines and also COVID-19 vaccines under license and importation of the technology and partnership for it,”

 

Ehanire further noted said that Local vaccine production was a priority project  of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration, adding that it was one reason the country have been engaging partners of interest in actualizing the very important project.

 

On his part, the Director for Disease Control and Immunisation, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Bassey Okposong reiterated the importance of the COVID-19 vaccination across the country.

 

Okposong disclosed that over 70 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to Nigerians.

 

“As of September 12th 2022, in 36 States of the Federation and the FCT, about 33,808,662 of total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,901,683 of total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are partially vaccinated,” he said.

 

He noted that Millions of children in the country missed out on basic childhood vaccines every year.

 

“Getting your child vaccinated is the best way to give every child a healthy start to life and protection against preventable diseases from birth into old age,” he added.

 

Speaking also, the Assistant Director and Head of Response Division,  Aderinola Olaolu of NCDC, said 70 per cent of the country’s Lassa fever cases were reported in Ondo, Edo and Bauchi.

 

Olaolu maintained that there have been 909 confirmed cases and 170 deaths of Lassa fever as of Week 34, from 25 states and 101 LGAs.

 

He said that the country’s response activities continue in all areas, particularly in areas of state advocacy, personal protective equipment (IPC) support, and laboratory diagnostics.

 

On measles, he said impacts of COVID-19 continue to be felt across several other areas including the increase in the risk of measles and a probable increase in yellow fever outbreaks due to delayed planned vaccination campaigns.

 

He stated that the NCDC has continued to record confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, just as in several other parts of the world.

 

“Unfortunately, SARS-CoV-2 is still exerting impacts globally, however, the effects of vaccinations, diagnostics and therapeutics are evident in our ability to continue with regular life, in Nigeria, we have had 5,547,250 samples tested, 264,802 confirmed cases, 257,880 discharged cases and unfortunately 3,155 deaths,” he added.

 

He noted that the virus is still circulating and Nigerians must continue to adhere to all measures to prevent transmission while strengthening Nigeria’s capacity to responds across states.

 

“As we have seen with COVID-19 and the outbreak of monkeypox in countries globally, diseases will continue to emerge, so we must learn to live safely and continue to protect our lives and livelihoods,” he said.

 

Meanwhile, the Director, Hospital Service Federal Ministry of Health, Adebimpe Adebiyi, said that no surge in Oxygen demand at the Isolation wards across the country.

 

“Oxygen availability at the isolation wards is ramped up because of the already completed few Federal Government driven PSA oxygen plants,” she said.

 

Speaking on case management strengthening activities, Adebiyi said the minister through the Case Management Pillar and in collaboration with NACA were holding coordination meeting with partners in the oxygen ecosystem implementation strategies.

 

“FHi360, CHAI and UNICEF are expected to present stewardship so especially about roles and responsibilities as it relates to C19RM funds, on oxygen support systems, the 5-Year National Policy and Guidelines on oxygen use (2017-2022) has just undergone the second phase of collaborative review in collaboration with partners (CHAI, UNICEF) and private sector involvement,” she added.

 

According to her, the target is to increase oxygen demand through expanded capacity building and knowledge sharing across all levels of care.

 

She said the FMOH has advised NACA to officially communicate with the ministry through the minister on the distribution of oxygen commodities to eligible health facilities in the country.

 

“The National Guidelines for Clinical Management of COVID-19 Version five was reviewed last week. Paxlovid is one of the new additions to the guideline and CHAI is currently harnessing partnership and securing support to ensure availability for Nigerians,” she said

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