By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has assured that it has enough COVID-19 vaccines in stock that can serve over 50 per cent of eligible Nigerians.
The Director Planning Research and Statistics of the NPHCDA, Dr. Abdullahi Bulama Garba, disclosed this at a media briefing in Abuja, on Monday.
He, however, said that most of the vaccines that arrived the country are still being cleared by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“The vaccines that have arrived are still being cleared with NAFDAC. I am sure all facilities will get the vaccine in the next few days.
“We have more than enough vaccine, in fact even keeping it is costing us money. What are we going to do with it? In fact, we are more anxious to make sure it is utilized.
“Our aim is to ensure that we reach 50 per cent of our target. That means that out of the 112 million Nigerians, we want to, at least, by January next year vaccinate over 50 million people.
“That is what our ambition is. I believe it is doable if the people come out and take the vaccines.”
He, however, allayed the fears that there is shortage of the first dose of the vaccine, explaining that, “we are making sure that those who had received the first dose are given their second dose.
“For example, we got over 4 million dosses of Moderna vaccine. We divided it into two and 50 per cent is for the first dose and the remaining is for those that have received the first dose and are expecting the second dose. This is because we are not sure whether we are going to receive the Moderna brand again.
“That is why we have to stop after reaching that 50 per cent. Just to be sure that only those who come for second dose that they can get it.
“We don’t want a mix of vaccine. That is why we have that transition. For Astra Zenaca, I am sure the story is not the same, it is available in the health facilities.”
He further disclosed that “The vaccines that have come are still being cleared with NAFDAC. I am sure all facilities will get the vaccine in the next few days.
“We have more than enough vaccine. In fact even keeping it is costing us money. What are we going to do with it? In fact, we are more anxious to make sure it is utilized.”
On his part, the National Coordinator of National Emergency Services Ambulance System (NEMSAS), Dr. Saidu Ahmed, disclosed that payment of reimbursement to service providers under the scheme will be direct devoid of any intermediary.
It would be recalled that the Health Management Organisations (HMOs) have been having running battle with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in recent times over lack of the payment of monies to service providers under the Scheme at the right time.
“The payment of NEMSAS is independent of NHIS. We are only making use of their ICT platform to ensure transparency so that any person sitting in his room can monitor the flow of money and how it gets to the service providers. There is transparency in the process. We are only given 48 hours, after that, if the person is an NHIS enrollee then the NHIS will take over from there. NEMSAS is independent of HMOs at the moment,” he said.
He explained that the NEMSAS programme was aimed at ensuring that emergency medical care is available when and where it is required irrespective of ability to pay.
Ahmed, however, disclosed that the NEMSAS programme would, next week, sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), the NHIS and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in an effort to improve it services.