The Nigerian Medical Association(NMA) and the National Association of Resident Doctors(NARD) have urged the Federal Government not to politicise the COVID-19 vaccination.
The medical associations advised the government to ensure that the vaccine gets to the people that need it, rather than politicians that can afford it.
The NMA and NARD said the vaccines are meant for Nigerians and not for some special persons.
The associations called for transparency in the distribution and prioritisation of COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
They also stated that the COVID-19 vaccination should not be politicised, noting that the Government must prioritise health workers who are the most at-risk of the viral infection.
The NMA and the NARD made the call while speaking in separate interviews with PUNCH HealthWise.
The Secretary-General of the NMA, Dr. Phillips Ekpe, disclosed that the association held a meeting with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency on the need to prioritise health workers for vaccination.
“NPHCDA is in charge of vaccination in the country and has held a meeting with us and discussed the modalities for the distribution of the vaccine, and frontline healthcare workers are one of the priorities.
“There is an assurance that they (frontline health workers) will be prioritised unless the ‘Nigerian factor’ comes in; but ideally, healthcare workers are meant to be prioritised because they are the most at-risk and most likely to spread it more,” Ekpe said.
He urged Nigerians to submit to vaccinations as soon as it is available in the Country
“Nigerians should brace up and take the vaccine and support the Government so that we will get back to normal as much as we can,” he said.
Also speaking with Newsmen, NARD President, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, asked the Federal Government not to politicise COVID-19 vaccination.
Okhuaihesuyi said though the association had spoken with the Federal Ministry of Health and the NPHCDA on ensuring that frontline health workers are prioritised in the COVID-19 vaccination, it had yet to get a definite response.
He said, “We have spoken to them, but we have not gotten any concrete reply yet from them.
“In my candid opinion, they should not politicise the vaccine and they should make sure it gets to the people that need it, not the politicians that can afford it because it’s meant for Nigerians and not for some special persons.
“They should not politicise how the vaccines will be distributed but it should get to the people that need it.”
The NARD president also urged the health ministry and the NPHCDA to partner with private donors who are interested in buying vaccines for the country.
“Donations from different people would have helped a lot to get more people to be vaccinated. But, the sad thing is that they are playing politics with the whole thing. Everything seems to be politicised in Nigeria.
“If it is not convenient for the top authorities, they tend to stay away from it; they are more interested in the one they borrow money to get than the one that will be donated to us.
“I feel we should make a plea to people that are capable to help donate vaccines for Nigerians. The more donations we can get, the better for everybody, not just health workers,” the NARD president said.
Recall that NPHCDA on Sunday said that Nigeria would take delivery of 3.92 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, March 2 [today].
According to the agency, the delivery would mark the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country and make Nigeria the next West African country to benefit from the COVAX Facility after Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, on Monday said President Muhammadu Buhari and the 36 governors are considered as a priority group for vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
He said that inoculation of ‘strategic leadership of the country’ would be conducted in public to clear any doubts about the safety of the vaccine.
Speaking in a live interview on Channels TV Sunrise Daily programme, the Minister of State said that the decision had already been concluded.
“In the order of priority, we will be looking at health workers at the frontline, the elderly, especially those above 60 years, and people with comorbidities like high blood pressure and diabetes.
“Next, we will be looking at the strategic leadership of the Country.
“When I talk about the strategic leadership of the Country, I am, of course, referring to Mr. President, the Governor’s, and the likes,” Mamora said.