The Federal Government has said Nigerians will be part of the early beneficiaries of COVID-19 vaccine when developed in commercial quantity. Minister for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said in Abuja on Tuesday that anytime a potent vaccine is found or developed as a solution to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerians will not be left out.
Ehanire, said this at two-day multi-sectoral conference on the COVID-19, noting that there are arrangements by the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure that Nigerians get the vaccine immediately it comes out.
A vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in ongoing Phase 3 trials, the companies had announced on Monday. The statement was released as soaring coronavirus cases across the world have forced many millions of people back into lockdown, causing further damage to ravaged economies. European stock markets and oil prices jumped on the announcement.
Ehanire, who was represented by the Minister of State, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, said, “I must say on the issue of vaccine that Africa will be considered. The Federal Ministry of Health, just last week; we signed a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that when the vaccines, wherever they come from, that have been established to be effective for COVID-19, we will not be left behind.”
The minister also said stressed the need to prioritise health if any gains are to be made in the sector. And if we appreciate that, the allocation in terms of budget for health will be much more than what it is at the moment,” he stated. According to him, the next thing to be prioritised is primary health care.
He said, “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 anti-natal care, to WASH program, health education.”