COVID-19 vaccine within Nigeria’s reach, Health minister tells Reps

November 10, 2020
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The Minister for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Tuesday, assured that Nigeria would not be found wanting anytime a potent vaccine is eventually developed as a solution to COVID-19.

Dr Ehanire gave the assurance in Abuja while speaking at a two-day multisectoral Conference on the COVID-19 with the theme: ‘Building Back Better, with Resilience

The Minister, who was represented by the Minister of State, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora hinted that there were arrangements already by the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure that Nigerians get the vaccine immediately it comes out.

He said, “just last week, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that when the vaccines, wherever they come from – that has been established to be effective for COVID-19, we will not be left behind.”

He said there is a need to prioritise health if any gains are to be made in the sector.

According to, “we must prioritise and the first thing we need to prioritise is the issue of health. I have always held the view that we need a nationally shared vision and in that vision, we take it as health comes first. And if we appreciate that, the allocation in terms of budget for health will be much more than what it is at the moment.

“The next thing is giving priority to primary healthcare. When we are told in medical school is that ‘common things occur commonly’. And that is why malaria remains one of the biggest killers because it is something that is common and it is with us.

“The figures that we have in infant mortality, in maternal mortality, a lot of the issues related can be handled at the primary care level if we have functional primary health centres where all the basic services can be rendered and where all basic services in terms of infrastructure are available – water, electricity supply.

“That is why the ministry has designed a prototype structure of primary health centre. We are working towards having functional primary health centres that all the basic services will be available, from immunization to ante-natal care, to WASH program, health education.”

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiola, who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase said that the emergence of the pandemic was sudden in the country and the entire globe.

According to him, “the emergence of COVID-19 on our shores and across the world may very well be the most significant global development of all our lifetime. Across the world, economic and commercial projections, social expectations, and political permutations have all fallen to the reality of a disease that nobody foresaw and none of us were prepared for.

“This conference provides an opportunity for those of us in parliament to further deliberate on the individual and collective role we can and must play in the conversations about nation-building in the post-COVID-19 world. Following from that, it is also an opportunity for us to guard ourselves and each other in preparation for the hard choices and difficult bargains that are the price of nation-building in a time of global crises. I am confident that together we will achieve all that the Nigerian people expect of us.”

Dr. Muyi Aina, Executive Director, Solina Health, who was the keynote speaker noted that the pandemic had brought new challenges.

He said “for a country like ours, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered security challenges and political upheavals. I think everybody anticipated the economic impact, but government across the world are losing credibility and popularity with their population, just based on the perceived way they manage the pandemic. The recent elections in the US probably might have had a different outcome if COVID-19 was not in the mix.

“Our own experience over the last several weeks underlined this fact. We know that pandemic put social cohesion and state security at risk and we did have recent widespread unrest across several states in the country. Whether you link that to the #EndSARS protests or you link to people trying to access COVID-19 palliatives stores, the truth is that it was all a culmination of pent-up frustration in the population that were just pumping and didn’t know what to do with themselves. That’s is a signal to us.”

The conference, meant for legislators from the national and state levels, is to bolster an enhanced home-grown legislative mechanism for building back the post-pandemic Nigeria.

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