By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
In an effort to support Nigeria in its COVID-19 vaccination efforts, MTN Nigeria has donated 604,800 doses of J&J COVID-19 vaccines worth $25m to Nigeria.
Speaking while receiving the vaccines, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, warned that COVID-19 is still a formidable threat to Nigeria.
Dr. Shuaib warned that: “The early we all come to a common understanding that COVID-19 is still a formidable threat to our collective well-being, the stronger we will be and easier and faster it will be for us to defeat and forge ahead with our lives.
“One cannot imagine what our dear country would have been by now if we did not have support like this we are receiving from MTN today.”
Represented by the Director Disease Control and Immunisation, Dr. Bassey Okposon, the NPHCDA Executive Director, lamented that: “The vaccines are there yet there are many of us who are resistant to be vaccinated.
“We seem to be having the wrong information that COVID-19 is no longer existing, that it is no longer a problem.
“Those of us who may be having such impression are wrong. The fact is that COVID-19 is still here with us in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world.
“It is a dangerous disease that can surge anytime as it has mutating property. It does not make sense that the government and its partners spent colossal sums of money to protect people from COVID-19 if the disease does not exist.”
Dr. Shuaib, however, disclosed that: “As at today September 14, 2022, about 47, 172,937 eligible Nigerians have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines representing 42.2 per cent of eligible population.
“Out of this 34,242,083 have been fully vaccinated and this represents 36.6 per cent of the eligible persons.
“Also those who have received the boaster doses are 3,678,412. These numbers constitute the less number of people that we are going to vaccinate in the country.
“These over 47 million people who have received the vaccine cannot be wrong if these vaccine was not for the good of the country.”
Speaking, the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, commended MTN for the donation saying that it was timely.
He, however, raised concern over what he described as high level resistance and complacency to the COVID-19 vaccination by most communities in Nigeria.
Represented by the Deputy WHO Country Representative, Alexander Chimbaru, the Country Representative recalled that: “At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, you are all aware that accessing the vaccine was a big challenge for Nigeria and other African countries, but with the coming together of partners this is actually reduced as we are witnessing vaccines coming into various countries.”
He, however, lamented that: “The challenge we have right now is the question of complacency, the challenge we are having right now is a question of resistance from some of our communities. It is a well known fact that if we get vaccinated, we are protecting ourselves, our children and our families.”
The donation of vaccine by the MTN according to Mulombo, “will enable Nigeria to continue its strong COVID-19 vaccination programme, sustaining its ongoing measures by the country and by the communities.
“Let us join hands to mobilise our communities, our children and our friends to be vaccinated.”
Speaking on the rationale for donating the 25 million dollars worth 604,800 doses of the J&J vaccine to Nigeria, the Regional General Manager of MTN, Hajiya Amina Danbata, said that the vaccines were meant to support the federal government to vaccinate Nigerians against the COVID-19.
“In conjunction with the African Union (AU) and also the African Acquisition Tax Team, MTN signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) whereby it will distribute vaccine to Africa in particular in Nigeria where we have subscribers and operate our businesses.
“We contacted the Ministry of Health in 2021 to express our intension through African Union to deliver at least, 604,000 dosses of J& J doses of vaccine which is about 25 million dollars which we are here to donate the vaccines today.
“We believe the Federal Ministry of Health will distribute it to those who need them. I am pleased on behalf of MTN to deliver this vaccine and this is why we are here today,” says Hajiya Danbata.