BusinessDay

NSSF to support more states to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination

The intervention by the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF), a private sector-led not-for-profit organisation is set to support more states in Nigeria to address vaccine hesitancy and increase COVID-19 vaccination to enable the country to meet its 70 percent vaccination target.

Bassey Okposen, director, Disease Control and Immunization/ Programme Manager at the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), who hinted this, disclosed that the first phase of intervention by the organisation has been instrumental in accelerating Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage, as more than 40 million persons have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the last one year.

He made this known during the evaluation meeting on COVID-19 vaccination organised by NSSF in Abuja.

The organisation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) in September 2021 to support vaccination in six states to the tune of N305 million. The states supported were Nasarawa, Imo, Ogun, Katsina and Edo.

At the onset of the support in September 2021, over N4.4 million eligible persons had been vaccinated with first dose representing 4.1 percent and 1.7 million fully vaccinated representing 1.6 percent since March when the country kicked off vaccinations .As at 31st October, a total of 49,568, 589 million have been fully vaccinated.

NSSF, while announcing the support in 2021, had set a target to vaccinate 1 million Nigerians. But Fejiro Chinye-Nwoko, general manager/CEO informed that over 2 million Nigerians were vaccinated. She added that the support also accelerated vaccination in other states by spurring competition.

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“As at Spetember 2021, just over four million Nigerians had been vaccinated with one dose of the vaccine. We supported the NPHCDA by donating over N300 million for six states. With that support, we were able to vaccinate over 2 million Nigerians.

“Apart from the direct vaccinations that we got with that support for six states , we were also able to accelerate vaccination all over Nigeria leading to the current numbers of 40 million Nigerians being vaccinated now because of that support,” she said.

“The goal was surpassed in the states, but it led to a lot of competition with the other states which also amounted for the increase in vaccination,” she added.

The general manager, said NSSF will continue to work with the NPHCDA to drive vaccination and help the country meet its 70 percent vaccination target. She said the organization is currently in talks with government and stakeholders on the next phase of its intervention.

According to her, vaccine hesitancy remains a major challenge, and informed that the NSSF would remain partners with NPHCDA to advocate for more support, coverage, and mobilisation to reduce vaccine hesitancy in Nigeria.

“We are yet to finalise on the next phase of the support. We are having this meeting to debrief on the states performance up till now and look at other areas and states that need support. When we gather all information we can state categorically what state and support we are giving,” Chinye-Nwoko said.

She noted that the 70 percent target can be achieved with the required number of personnel, resources and vaccines. “We are working with NPHCDA across several other states to increase mobilisation and reduce vaccine hesitancy, and in no distant time we will get to 70 percent coverage.

Nigeria set a target to vaccinate over 111 million Nigerians representing 70 percent of the target population by the end of 2022.

Mohammed Usman Adis, executive secretary of Nasarawa state primary healthcare development agency said the support from NSSF was timely, and the funds was immediately deployed to help the state address issues around vaccine hesitancy and resistance which was one of the major challenge in the state.

“When the funds came, it was really helpful; we mobilized people to get into communities using a lot of incentives. That really pulled a lot of community members to access the vaccines,” he said.

Nasarawa is the best performing state among the beneficiary states. The state exceeded its target. Over 1.9 million have been vaccinated representing 133 percent.

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