• Thursday, June 20, 2024
businessday logo


Vaccination remains the best weapon to fight Covid-19 – WHO, AHBN

Covid-19 vaccine

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), has reiterated that vaccination remains the best weapon and strategy to fight against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic which has claimed millions of lives globally and in Nigeria.

Aminu Magashi, AHBN Coordinator stated that for Nigeria to recover fully from the pandemic, government and policy makers must prioritise health, while also urging citizens to take Covid-19 vaccines which “are very safe”, and shun all forms of conspiracy theories.

He said this during the fifth Annual Conference of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) with the theme ‘Improving confidence in Covid-19 vaccine in Nigeria beyond 2021″ in Nasarawa state. Magashi who was represented by Obinna Onuoha, Senior Programme and Partnership, AHBN also called on the Nigerian government to ensure efficient and transparent utilisation of all Covid-19 funds.

Magashi stressed that every Covid-19 funding and recovery plan touches the lives of all Nigerians, and as such, the public should adequately be adequately informed on how each penny is utilised.

Read Also: COVID-19: Omnicron strain spells trouble on Nigeria’s slow vaccine rollout

Magashi while calling on ANHEJ members to ensure they ask hard questions on the type, nature and duration of funding support for every recovery plan said, the media stands front-line and centre in ensuring that all Nigerians are well-informed with facts.

He said, “With all the efforts underway towards recovery from Covid-19, the media stands front, line, and center in ensuring that all Nigerians are well-informed with the facts: what funding has been received and from whom, what plans from the Government are in place to utilize these funds to provide quality health, what are the checks and balances to ensure these dedicated funds offer value for money, what are the steps taken to ensure all concerned parties are held accountable in the disbursement and utilization of these funds, what are the feedback mechanisms from the beneficiaries of these health interventions, and how are the challenges and lessons carried forth for future reference, that we may learn from the past.”

This, according to him, is how Nigeria can build back better. “In so doing, we will steer this great nation closer to seeking the quality health Nigerians are entitled to, not only by their innate rights as human beings but also as enshrined in the National Health Act 2014, by which we are compelled to uphold,” he stressed.

“Health should be our number one priority if we are to expect full recovery from Covid-19, and I believe this has been reiterated by the Federal Government’s declaration to end Covid-19 by 31 December, 2022,” he further said.

Also speaking, the WHO Health Emergency Information & Risk Assessment (HIM) Lead, Geoffrey Namara said misinformation has remained a big threat to Covid-19 response efforts in Nigeria. He tasked health journalists to always equip themselves with relevant knowledge and information to ensure proper reporting.

In his presentation titled: “Understanding key outbreak metrics for accurate reporting”, Namara regretted that conspiracy theory, misinformation, and other factors are preventing most Nigerians from accepting the vaccines.

He urged health journalists to use the platform and deliberate and brainstorm with critical stakeholders on relevant information that will convince Nigerians to accept the Covid-19 vaccines.

Earlier, the WHO Nigeria Communication Officer, Charity Warigon noted that there is much to attain in driving confidence in the vaccination effort by building trust.

She said the theme of the two-day conference is apt, explaining that journalists remain vital in achieving the goal of keeping Nigerians safe.

“Journalists can only improve on what we have achieved so far and even do better, as there is so much to attain in driving confidence in the vaccination effort by building trust and continuously being a trusted and reliable source,” she said.

On his part ANHEJ President, Hassan Zaggi in his welcome address lamented that even though the Federal Government is making efforts to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19, some enemies of progress are working hard to frustrate the efforts.

He said, as critical stakeholders in the sector, the conference will accord the opportunity to brainstorm on the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In his welcome address, the President of ANHEJ, Hassan Zaggi, called on the federal government to always make available the necessary information that journalists need for their reportage.

He further said that health journalists in Abuja are gathered to work out strategies on how to convince Nigerians for the adequate uptake of the Covid-19 vaccines.