Governors of the 36 states of the federation under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) have raised the alarm over the rising COVID-19 cases.
This is even as the governors dissociated themselves from comments credited to Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello that the COVID -19 vaccines are meant to kill. In a communiqué issued after their teleconference meeting on Wednesday, Ekiti State governor and chairman of NGF, Kayode Fayemi said the governors would do more to reactivate their health systems and open-up treatment centres to minimise the risk of contracting the virus.
Fayemi also briefed his colleagues on a meeting with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of the Board of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, on the rollout of the COVAX facility which is a global risk-sharing mechanism co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to facilitate pooled procurement and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across developing countries.
According to him, Nigeria is among 12 countries in Africa that have indicated its readiness, out of the 92 qualified countries for the facility and will by the end of February 2021, receive its first shipment of vaccines. He also disclosed that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has indicated that the vaccines will be administered in four (4) phases, based on vaccine type and availability, initially for frontline health workers, aged (55yrs and above), persons with underlying medical conditions and other target groups.
He said, “The forum received briefings from three medical experts including leading Virologist and former Vice-Chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Nigeria, Professor Oyewale Tomori; executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib; founder/managing director, Synlab Nigeria (formerly PathCare), Dr. Pamela Ajayi and founding partner of the Anadach Group, Dr. Egbe Dawodu on the country’s preparedness for the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines and the level of collaboration required from all stakeholders, including the federal, state governments and the private sector.
“Following the presentations, the forum set up a team of experts led by Professor Oyewale Tomori to advise State governors on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines in the country”.
“On the ill-fated pronouncement made by a member of the forum regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in a national daily, the forum totally and categorically dissociated itself from the statement, emphasising that it will continue to be informed and guided by science and ensure that every decision it takes retains public and professional trust and is not compromised by conflicts of interest”.
“The Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, who is the Chairman of the NGF Sub- Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 reported with concern the rising positivity rate amongst those tested for the virus.
“He called on Governors to do more to reactivate their health systems, open-up treatment centres and increase partnerships with stakeholder groups in order to improve risk communication and the public’s adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.
Fayemi also said the Forum received a presentation from the Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Hussein Adamu and the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, on the Sustainable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SUWASH) results-based financing programme for States.
He said the programme became necessary given the state of the sector, which has contributed to 73 percent of Nigeria’s total burden of enteric infections and over 255,000 preventable deaths in the country each year.
“State governors consequently committed to increasing budgetary allocation to the sector with the collaboration of the federal ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the World Bank through the US$640 million investment finance and US$60 million technical assistance component, which will support and incentivize infrastructure investments and strengthen government policies and institutions in the WASH sector,” he stated.