By Asmau Ahmad
The Federal Government of Nigeria has set up a joint taskforce on COVID-19 vaccine racketeering, to curb fraud related to the COVID vaccines and treatments.
The Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Abdullahi Garba made the disclosure at the bi-weekly COVID-19 update in Abuja on Monday.
He said membership of the taskforce to check the racketeering comprised relevant agencies in the health sector as well as other critical stakeholders.
Dr Garba disclosed members of the taskforce to include; the NPHCDA, Department of State Services (DSS), Independent Corrupt and other related Practices Commission (ICPC), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), State Primary Health Care Board (SPHCBs) and traditional leaders.
The director who spoke on behalf of the NPHCDA Executive Director Dr Faisal Shuaib, said over five million people were vaccinated with first dose and over two million people were vaccinated with the second doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
He also said that the NPHCDA had expanded the COVID-19 vaccination sites to all secondary and tertiary health facilities in addition to at least one Primary Healthcare Centre in every political ward across the country.
Dr Garba added that, “we have expanded vaccination sites to all primary and tertiary healthcare centres. Private health facilities are also being engaged.”
The director noted that the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines was not the issue in the country, stressing that “vaccines are available. Please go to any centre and get vaccinated.”
He explained that the vaccines were free no matter where it was given, but that owners of private facilities may apply charges for utilities.
On his part, Dr John Oladejo, the Director, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said Lagos, Rivers and Edo were some of the states contributing to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.
According to him, Abia, Anambra, Cross River and Edo recorded high number of cases in the last seven days.
He noted that the international travel protocol had been reversed to remove some countries.
While answering questions from journalists at the briefing, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the country was determined to deal with the COVID-19 virus.
Ehanire noted that the Nigerian vaccine policy was set up in such a way that the country could begin to manufacture its own vaccine through direct or contracted man power.
The minister said there was a two-billion-dollar arrangement for vaccine provision on ground that would cover the country for the next seven years.
He, however, called on Nigerians to continue to protect themselves and others by wearing the face mask and washing their hands correctly.