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Closing The COVID-19 Vaccination Gap in Nigeria

A communique issued at the end of a 1-day workshop facilitated by the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria in collaboration with Sterling Bank and other stakeholders…

A communique issued at the end of a 1-day workshop facilitated by the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria in collaboration with Sterling Bank and other stakeholders on closing the COVID-19 vaccination gap in Nigeria held on 25th June 2021 at the Lagos Marriot Hotel Ikeja.

The workshop hopes to shed light on the importance of vaccination in the fight against COVID-19, provide an update on the vaccination exercise in Nigeria and devise a sustainable action plan to ensure Nigeria attains viable HERD-IMMUNITY against the COVID-19 virus.


Sterling Bank Plc collaborated with the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN), the umbrella body for the entire private healthcare providers in the country, the organised private sector, and the public health sector administrators, to hold a one-day workshop 25th of June 2021.

The theme of the workshop was Closing the Gap in COVID-19 Vaccination: Role of the Private Sector. It was aimed at identifying the gaps in the vaccination exercise in the country, providing valuable insights into how the gap can be closed and fostering sustainable collaboration between the Public and the Private Sectors to close the gap and galvanise the exercise to ramp up the process and take the country to HERD-IMMUNITY in the shortest possible time.

Presentations and Discussions:
The President of the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN), Dr. Pamela Ajayi gave the opening remarks. She talked about the Private Sector Role in Vaccine Distribution and Vaccination. She highlighted the role the private sector can play in vaccination by drawing attention to the current dependence on it to deliver over 70% of healthcare services in the country.
She further outlined various ways the private sector can sustainably augment the vaccination exercise as follows:
• Secure additional doses to augment the Government’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
• Provide storage infrastructure, freight vehicles and facilities with the required technology and undertake capacity augmentation wherever required.
• Implement innovative financing mechanism.
• Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on COVID-19 vaccine inventory management, safety protocols and fraud management and train existing workforce on the same.
• Provide World Class private healthcare facilities to provide vaccination across the country.
• Provide technology platforms with the ability to exchange/upload data with government IT interfaces.

She further drew inferences from various parts of the world where the private sectors have significantly contributed to the success of vaccination across the different value-chain.

The Honourable Commissioner of Health for Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, highlighted the Causes, Effects and long-term consequences of the vaccination gap for Lagos State and, by extension, the entire country. He gave various statistics that show that the government has a long way to go in the vaccination exercise; the minimum percentage of the population needed to be vaccinated to achieve herd-immunity is about 60%; Lagos, which is the best in terms of the exercise in the country is at about 0,5% and at the current pace of vaccination, it would take up till about the second quarter of 2025 to achieve herd-immunity. The catastrophic economic effect can only be imagined coupled with the changing forms and variants of the virus.

Efforts must be intensified to achieve herd-immunity at the latest by the second quarter of 2022.

He identified 4 strategic priorities of the State in the vaccination exercise as:
1. Reduce Death
2. Improve System Resilience
3. Prevent Clinical Harm
4. Prevent Economic Harm
All of this can be better achieved by collaboration with the private sector.

The National Incident Manager for COVID-19 and coordinator of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) Dr. Mukhtar Muhammed highlighted the efforts of the Federal Government in curtailing the spread of the virus across the country in terms of testing for the virus, management of the patients and prevention of the further spread of the disease. He also gave insights into the procurement of the first batch of vaccines and the ongoing vaccination exercise. Dr. Mukhtar commended the collaborative effort of the Lagos State Government and the private laboratories in the COVID-19 testing consortium in Lagos, which has attracted both local and international commendation. He advised that such collaboration should be emulated in other parts of the country.

Dr. Mukhtar stated the government’s willingness at the federal level to provide the needed support and enabling environment to ensure the success of all partnership collaboration that may be birthed to enhance the COVID-19 vaccination exercise. He charged the workshop organisers to develop a strategic implementation framework and actionable plans; he would be more than willing to help push through.

The President of the West African Private Healthcare Federation (WAPHF) Mrs Clare Omatseye, in her presentation on the Impact of the Private Sector Coalition in COVID-19 Intervention, gave insight into how the private sector quickly came together at the onset of COVID-19 and worked together as collaborators rather than rivals through CACOVID in alliance with the government to set up various mechanism to combat the ravaging virus.

That singular act of comradeship significantly reduced the pressure on the government and ensured the country was able to manage the crisis appreciably.

They advocated for effective collaboration across the vaccination value chain with the government playing oversight and regulatory role while the Private Sector deploy their expertise and network across different strata to implement agreed framework.

Abubakar Suleiman, MD/CEO of Sterling Bank, reiterated the commitment of the bank to all collaborations sanctioned by the government as this is needed to give financiers the confidence that whatever investment made in such ventures would be worth their while and that of their investors.

Abubakar further emphasised the significance of vaccination from an economic angle. He informed that the financial burden of getting vaccinated is undoubtedly not in the cost of the vaccine itself but what is lost in not getting vaccinated and helping in achieving herd immunity which would be in multiple folds compared to the cost of the vaccine.

At the end of the presentations and deliberations, recommendations were made as follows:
• A collaboration framework should be developed between the public and private sectors, with line items highlighting the scope and roles of stakeholders.
• A team of relevant stakeholders’ representatives should be formed to deliberate and develop the framework.
• The government should provide necessary conducive environmental and implementation policies.
• Standard Operating Procedures and Memorandum of Agreement with specific terms and conditions must be developed and executed by all stakeholders.
• Milestones and specific timelines must be given to each task considering the required urgency to fully implement the vaccination exercise.
• Adequate communication plans to incorporate health education and health promotions must be put in place.
• A collaborative funding structure with well-established term sheets must be developed and adhered to.
• An all-inclusive approach embracing the involvement of all stakeholders (governments, private corporates, media, and individuals) is required to significantly ramp up the vaccination scheme.

It was unanimously agreed that the above recommendations should be set in motion quickly, and implementation should commence forthwith.

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