Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund set to vaccinate 1m Nigerians in 2021

The Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF), the brainchild of Global Citizen (GC) and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), has announced a campaign to vaccinate one million Nigerians before the end of 2021.

With its multi-donor institutional mechanism for mobilising pooled funds earmarked to support the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 relief efforts, the NSSF is working with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) to achieve this target.

The programme has been approved to start in a state in each of the six geo-political zones in Nigeria within 12 weeks from October 1 to December 31, 2021. The programme involves sending teams to Adamawa, Edo, Imo, Katsina, Nasarawa and Ogun, with coverage across 133 local government areas and 153 implementing wards across all six states. With a roll out rate of 60 vaccines a day per team, one million vaccinations will be achieved being 3.4 percent of the population in these states, according to the NSSF.

In a press statement, the organisation notes that the campaign will also address the challenges faced during the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Nigeria, which included vaccine hesitancy, global shortfall of the COVID-19 vaccines, the recent detection of Delta variant of the virus in the country and delay in the release of funds for the operational costs.

The success of this campaign will be scaled up with more donations, as the NSSF is commencing more campaigns for vaccine equity and vaccine hesitancy with the GC live event, and this collaboration will provide the necessary platform to acquire resources needed to speed up the COVID-19 vaccination programme and get more eligible Nigerians vaccinated.

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Speaking on the partnership with the agency and the donation, Babatunde Folawiyo, chairman, NSSF, stated, “The devastating impact of COVID-19 is unquantifiable, and we understand that we cannot leave this fight to end the pandemic to the government alone.

“Public-private partnerships (PPP) are needed if the country is to succeed in the fight against the pandemic and restore social and economic normalcy within the quickest time possible”.

The collaboration between the NPHCDA and NSSF will not only ensure equitable distribution and application of the vaccinations programme across the country, but also promote adequate education and awareness about the benefits of getting vaccinated, Folawiyo explained.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director/CEO, NPHCDA, expressed delight about the partnership with the NSSF, saying, “I am delighted by this historic partnership between NPHCDA and the NSSF, following the signing of a MoU on the provision of funding that would increase COVID-19 vaccine advocacy on its safety and effectiveness and in turn increase vaccine uptake in Nigeria.

“The NPHCDA-NSSF vaccination campaign will cover six states in six geo-political zones in Nigeria within 12 weeks from October 1st to December 31st, 2021. The states include Adamawa, Edo, Imo, Katsina, Ogun and Nasarawa. Coverage will be across 133 LGAs and 513 implementing wards across these states. Data collection will be monitored by national, state and LGA supervisors using digital technology monitors.”

The Federal Government is targeting over 110 million eligible Nigerians (18 years and above) for COVID-19 vaccination over the next two years in four phases, as part of the efforts to acquire herd immunity and interrupt community transmission of COVID-19 in the country, he said.

According to Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, vice-chairman, NSSF, “The need for private sector interventions to fill noticeable developmental gaps cannot be overemphasized. With less than 3 percent of the population vaccinated, Nigeria is way below the minimum percentage threshold of 60-70 percent vaccinations required to get the type of herd immunity that makes a nation safe.”

He added that therefore NSSF scaled down its “corporate priority for 2021 to support the government in tackling the twin challenges of vaccine inequity and vaccine hesitancy.”

He noted that the fund had developed a methodology and was working with a team of professionals to ensure that its objectives were met.

Commenting on the campaign methodology, Fejiro Chinye-Nwoko, general manager, NSSF, said, “NSSF will work with NPHCDA to implement the campaign framework as well as ensure programme targets are met in an efficient, effective, safe and timely manner.”

She also added that vaccine roll-out sensitisation would be carried out by internal stakeholders such as town mobilisers and community heads, and “this would improve acceptability of the message and ensure that the message penetrates to the last mile within the communities thereby breaking down the barriers to vaccine hesitancy.”

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