By Asmau Ahmad
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has said that as part of Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX), it plans to provide an additional $33.3 million in Nigeria to support activities that may include bolstering cold chain supply and logistics, addressing vaccine confidence and demand, and increasing the accessibility of vaccination sites.
The Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID, Dr Atul Gawande disclosed this at a three-day high-level summit on “Ports to Arms” Africa responds to the COVID-19, equity, delivery, and manufacturing, on Wednesday in Abuja.
The summit follows on from the October 2021 World Health Summit in Berlin, which called for world leaders to address global pandemic preparedness, the high-level dialogues at the 2021 Wilton Park events and building on the G20 Rome declaration and the Global COVID 19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better.
The summit further seeks to: “Engender a platform for African and global experts to share effective approaches to addressing equitable access to COVID-19 tools;
“Enable stakeholders to redefine the state of ‘global solidarity’ to advance collective pandemic response.
“Develop practical steps to actualise commitments – going beyond rhetoric, and urgently address access to COVID-19 tools, with a focus on equitable vaccine access and manufacturing for the African Continent.
“Design strategies to close the delivery gap of essential health services such as routine immunisation and interventions that build on Africa’s medium- and long-term recovery and resilience strategies.
“Access to vaccines is key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. While the world contends with inequitable distribution of COVID- 19 vaccines, at a subnational level, the challenges of procuring, delivering and getting vaccines into arms of everyone in all our communities has its own set of challenges, depending on different resource settings and health systems infrastructure,” it outlined.
Dr Gawande noted that since 2020, the United States had provided $143 million to support Nigeria’s COVID-19 response.
He stated that the Global VAX also would support Nigeria’s existing vaccination plans, and would help get vaccines to people quickly, safely, and equitably.
According to him, the Nigerian government has shown its commitment to increasing the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, and we are proud to partner with it as the United States launches this important initiative to boost global vaccination rates.”
“We are calling on other countries to engage further and contribute expertise and resources to identify and rapidly overcome vaccine access barriers experienced by communities around the world, especially in Africa,” he called.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Ms Mary Beth Leonard said that the US government is pleased to have a close partnership with the Government of Nigeria on the COVID-19 response.
While given the progress Nigeria has made, Leonard said that the Nigeria have the potentials to make significant, additional advancement in its response to COVID-19.
“We are pleased to surge more resources to help rapidly increase vaccination rates,” she added.
Global VAX is a whole-of-U.S.-government effort to accelerate vaccine uptake toward the global goal to vaccinate 70 percent of the world population against COVID-19 in 2022.