By Abujah Racheal
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says Federal Government is exploring all options to ensure the vaccination of 70 per cent of Nigeria population in two years.
Ehanire made this known on Monday at the national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja.
According to him, Nigeria is exploring all options to secure safe and efficacious vaccines to meet the target of covering at least 70 per cent of the population within two years.
“With an eye on value-for-money, we are negotiating with many parties and planning for flawless execution using recent experience from polio eradication in the face of a global scramble for vaccines,” he said.
Ehanire said that apart from the 100,000 doses allocated as first wave to Nigeria by the COVAX facility, the Federal Government also placed order for 10 million doses through the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) of the Africa Union Commission.
He said the commission had secured 270 million doses, with the two billion dollars backing by Africa Exim Bank for a ‘whole-of-Africa’ approach by the Chairman, African Union, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.
“The vaccine is expected to be rolled out as from late March or April. The quantity we ordered from AVATT will depend on our capacity to dispense them to avoid wastage as we have seen in some countries where vaccine management became a problem.
“Nigeria has an indigenous vaccine candidate which will require considerable investment to get through trials.
“We shall seek sponsorship to take the initiative further,.
“The development of a handbook on Home Based COVID-19 care is to guide patients who will be assigned each to a specific case manager linked to a health facility, to provide social support service and ensure positive outcomes.
“This will reduce pressure on health facilities and free bed space for serious and critical cases.
“This handbook will also provide Nigerians with guidelines to correct the divergent, and misleading treatment regimens being touted in various quarters.
“The Federal Government’s nationwide Oxygen intervention projects, which will see the construction of at least one oxygen plant in every state is under way.
“Five facilities in FCT will also get upgraded oxygen plants in a separate intervention.
“In the meantime, the Federal Ministry of Health is arranging for Federal Tertiary Hospitals and Isolation Centres to interface and explore demand imbalances among facilities, and set up an Oxygen re-distribution system to assist each other when demand arises,” he added.