By Zayamu Hassan
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), has formally launched COVID-19 vaccination in reputable pharmacies across the country.
This is in an effort to expand access to COVID-19 vaccination and other immunization services in all parts of the country.
To achieve success, the NPHCDA entered into partnership with the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria.
Speaking at the formal flag-off of the exercise, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Café Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the partnership between his agency and the community pharmacists was aimed at strengthening the health care architecture of the country.
Dr. Shuaib, said, “this collaboration is a step in the right direction as it is in furtherance of our determination to expand access to COVID-19 vaccination and other immunization services across the country.
“I believe this is an unprecedented and novel initiative that we have embarked on as a country to strengthen our health security architecture.”
Dr. Shuaib further noted that: “With over 6000 community pharmacies spread across the country, coupled with the ease of access and long operating hours, I believe this will contribute to rapidly increasing vaccination coverage.
“I am excited about this collaboration and I believe it will add zest to the country’s effort to attain the national target of 70 per cent vaccination coverage that is necessary to achieve herd immunity.”
Explaining the relevance of the community pharmacies in the partnership, Dr. Shuaib said: “Community pharmacies are one of the most easily accessible and frequently consulted points of care for health care service delivery by the public sector especially in underserved population due to their interconnectedness with the communities.
“In Nigeria, for example, community pharmacies involvement in differentiated care and administration of antiretroviral medicines for HIV care have been shown to improve retention on treatment, adherence to medication, and overall better treatment outcomes.
“In fact, community pharmacists have contributed greatly during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic through ensuring the availability and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPEs), hand sanitizers, etc.
“I want to affirm that this synergy will once again enhance our COVID-19 vaccination programme and help the country achieve herd immunity while strengthening the health care system and contributing to health security.”
Speaking, the Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Pharm. Wale Oladigbo, said that his members are easily accessible, trusted health care professionals and offer extended hours of services across the country.
He insisted the inclusion community pharmacies in vaccination processes will drive down vaccine hesitancy and improve coverage tremendously.
“We need to remind ourselves that COVID-19 took away about 15 million lives globally between 2020 and 2021. We have passed the peak of the pandemic and we have global health interventions.
“Humanity is saved and preserved once more and while we are feeling relieved, it is not yet over until it is over, we must continue with what works: vaccination and other public health advisories.
“Only about 15.8 per cent of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated in Nigeria. We share the joint responsibility to move the figure to 70 per cent to guide against relapse and the emergence of a more virulent strain of the virus,” he stressed.