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FG tasks governors on protecting COVID-19 vaccines, cold storage

By Chukwuma Muanya (Lagos) and Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja)
25 August 2021   |   3:46 am
Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has called on governors to provide oversight and resources to ensure COVID-19 vaccines...

Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib

• Academy advocates research to boost fight against diseases
• Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund partners Global Citizen on vaccine equity, hesitancy
• African health ministers review action against pandemic

Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has called on governors to provide oversight and resources to ensure COVID-19 vaccines deployed to their states are protected and stored at required temperatures.

Speaking at a virtual weekly update on COVID-19 vaccination, yesterday, in Abuja, Shuaib explained that the agency, which has so far deployed Moderna vaccines to 29 states, could not do so immediately after certification by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

He explained that unlike AstraZeneca, Moderna did not come with complete barcoding, which is needed to track and trace the vaccines.

He said NPHCDA wants to ensure that any state the vaccines are sent to is ready to receive them. He said the state’s ultra-cold chain equipment need to be functional and able to store the vaccines at required temperatures.

He said states must have backup storage facilities such as walk-in cold rooms, walk-in freezers or chest freezers with reliable 24-hour power supply. This is in addition to trained health care workers who would monitor the equipment and the vaccines.
THIS came as the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) said building strong institutions is critical to achieving the next breakthroughs in diseases such as COVID-19, cancer and HIV/AIDS.

Speaking at the International Conference and General Assembly of the Nigerian Young Academy (NYA) held at the University of Abuja, NAS Vice President, Prof. Abubakar Sambo, said academic research on COVID-19 will assist industries in coming up with treatment regimens for the virus and other diseases and also provide veritable scientific evidence for the formulation of relevant policies.
Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF or the Fund), meanwhile, has said it would, on September 25, 2021, join efforts with international advocacy organisation, Global Citizen, to address critical issues affecting the world, top of which is the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine equity and vaccine hesitancy.

As an advocate for impact, NSSF is one of the partner institutions headlining the event alongside Global Citizen. Established as a partnership between Global Citizen and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), NSSF is an innovative platform for resource mobilisation primarily created to complement government’s efforts to mitigate adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians.

The Fund, in a statement, yesterday, said it has set its strategic priority for 2021/2022 to “ensure that 1 million Nigerians” are vaccinated against COVID-19 and is, therefore, partnering with Global Citizen to amplify this call on global organisations and world leaders.

African health ministers met, yesterday, to take stock of the continent’s fight against COVID-19, as the pandemic continues to stretch health systems to breaking point in some countries.

They assessed immediate actions needed to curb Africa’s third wave, which saw COVID-19 cases in Africa surpass seven million, reach a record weekly peak of over 250,000 in early July and drive up deaths to a record weekly peak of over 6400 in early August.

The third wave has declined over the last five weeks since the peak in early July, but 16 countries are still experiencing a surge in new cases.

The special online session sought to brief ministers on the state of COVID-19 across the World Health Organisation (WHO) African region, share approaches in tackling the pandemic and discuss how African countries can learn from COVID-19 and build more sustainable systems to prevent, detect and respond to future health emergencies.

“It is only together that the world can rise to the challenge of ending the COVID-19 pandemic… [In Côte d’Ivoire] Abidjan is the epicentre and our country is making every effort to contain it. The number of deaths rose significantly in recent days, showing that this latest wave will have higher consequences in terms of mortality,” said Pierre N’gou Dimba, Minister of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Health Coverage of Cote d’Ivoire, who was speaking on behalf of H.E. Dr. Alassane Ouattara, President of Cote d’Ivoire in a keynote address.