The Nigeria Government on Wednesday received a $9,261,920 grant from the Canadian government to support the scale-up of COVID-19 vaccine service among high priority risk groups and to strengthen the country’s health system.
Speaking at the launch of the Canada Global Initiative for Vaccine Equity (CanGIVE) grant in Abuja, the High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, Jamie Christoff, said the grant is another example of Canada’s historical institutional relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide support to Nigeria.
Mr Christoff said although COVID-19 is no longer a global emergency, it is still important to reinforce public health systems as part of an inclusive and sustainable recovery.
“We must intentionally link up these efforts with routine immunisation and other services,” he said.
“This can help, for example, to reach children who missed routine vaccinations over the pandemic. We know that ultimately, it takes a health system to turn a vaccine into vaccination.”
He said the project will integrate COVID-19 into the country’s health information systems, enhancing information management and disease surveillance data, including gender-responsive data.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, said over 75 per cent of the target population has been reached with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since implementation commenced.
Mr Shuaib said the vaccination programme has been implemented in phases, ensuring that eligible populations are reached and no one is left behind.
“Nigeria was among the first countries to establish an electronic registry and integrate COVID-19 vaccination with other primary healthcare services. Our “One Country, One Team; One Plan, One Budget” approach reflects our commitment to integrating lessons learned during and after the pandemic into our healthcare system,” he said.
He said although significant progress has been made in vaccinating eligible populations, some states are performing better than others.
“Therefore, this grant targets states with lower performance and aims to reach high-priority populations,” he said.
He said the states targeted for implementation include Ondo, Rivers, Kogi, Delta, Ebonyi, Lagos, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Ogun, Katsina, Taraba, Anambra, Kebbi, and Edo.
In his remark, WHO’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Walter Mulombo, said the grant came at the right time to help improve coverage and uptake of vaccine among the priority populations.
Mr Mulombo said as of now, 14 states are performing less than 50 per cent vaccination coverage of their target population.
“We still have some vulnerable populations that are not sufficiently covered. Key among these subgroups are the aged from 50 years and above, people with co-morbidities, health workers, people living in humanitarian and security compromised communities and the pregnant women,” he said.
He said although considerable achievements have been made in the fight against COVID-19, “we are still at risk as cases are still reported in a number of countries.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to caution all of us on the need to continue protecting ourselves by completing the primary series of COVID-19 vaccination and for those who have completed to continue with the booster dose schedule,” he said.
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