By Iyemah David
The Government of Spain donated 4,400,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria.
The Spain Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Juan Ignatio Sell, during the handover of the vaccines at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA), on Tuesday in Abuja, disclosed this was the largest COVID-19 donation to any African nation.
Sell said that the donation was in fulfilment of his country’s commitment to supporting developing countries in ramping up vaccination against COVID-19.
“In 2020, the world was faced with the challenge to develop an effective vaccine. In 2021 the challenges evolved to the production and distribution of the vaccines. Today in 2022, we need to put these vaccines within people’s reach.
“As we want to leave the acute phase of the pandemic behind, we dare not linger and there are lessons to be learnt.
“One of them is the need to improve global mechanisms for technology transfer to decentralize the production of health products in all regions, Africa in particular. And that is why Spain has joined the WHO Technology Access Group.
“And that is also why the EU has launched a Team Europe Initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa, with 1 billion euros, and that will benefit Nigeria.
“And we need to protect, safeguard and invest in health and health workers, and this is the effort line that Spain is co-leading in the framework of the Global Action Plan, and we have committed 300 million euros for further donations and projects to strengthen public health systems,” he advised.
Receiving the donation, Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, while appreciating the Spanish government for the donation, said the gesture came at a time the country is most needed.
Shuaib used the opportunity to call on eligible Nigerians who were yet to be vaccinated to do so.
According to him, if we keep up with the vaccination, the likely scenario is that even though the virus continues to evolve, the severity of the disease will reduce over time as the immunity increases due to vaccination.