COVID: Why Nigeria should involve private sector in vaccination – analyst

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Reviewing the ongoing vaccination exercise, Muhammed Yusuf, a public health analyst, has urged the Federal Government to adopt a public-private partnership approach to administering COVID-19 vaccines.

Yusuf argued that bringing the private sector players on board would increase resources and capabilities to make COVID-19 vaccines accessible to all.

He believed would close the glaring execution gaps affecting the on-going pilot phase of the rollout.

Nigeria must take a cue from the United States of America. The US government is working with the private sector to coordinate the country’s COVID-19 vaccine programme,” Yusuf said.

“It is a public-private partnership open to interested corporations such that Walmart is offering drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations to citizens. We need the same type of inclusive and expansive distribution network,” Yusuf contended.

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According to him, on-going exercise has shown that government cannot do it alone.

The private sector has to support vaccine procurement and administration in the country to save citizens and the country’s health care system from unnecessary shocks.

Improving confidence in the Federal Government-led AstraZeneca inoculation programme for COVID-19 has made long queues and breach of social distancing a permanent fixture at Primary Health Centres (PHC). Limited vaccination points per state, infrastructure inadequacy, and manual processing across most centres are the immediate cause of this aberration.

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Anambra, one of Nigeria’s most urbanised states, has only 129 vaccination points for almost five million citizens due to the Federal Government’s hold on the process.

Less than 25,000 Anambra citizens have been inoculated four weeks after the exercise kicked off. The same state coordinated and vaccinated about 5.5 million people against Yellow Fever in ten days last year.

At the Akerele Primary Health Centre in Surulere, Abosede Alawaiye, said she registered for the vaccine online. She scheduled her appointment for April 1 but is yet to be vaccinated days after.

Abosede blamed it on the high concentration of Hajj-bound citizens taking undue advantage at the vaccination centre.

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Likewise, Chuka Okechukwu is not pleased with his experience while trying to get vaccinated. He described the process as slow, tortuous, and unreliable, marred by long-winding manual documentation and indefinite waiting hours.

Narrating his ordeal, Chuka said getting vaccinated against COVID-19 has become a nightmare, synonymous with procuring the National Identity Number (NIN).

He attributed the service failure and hardship faced to excluding the organised private sector that eased the country’s COVID-19 testing challenge.

Chuka believed the ongoing vaccination effort is challenged because it bypasses technology at the primary health centres’ vaccination points, making life difficult for Nigerians.

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