NPHCDA’s formidable COVID-19 vaccine strategy
By Bridget Agada
The newest assignment in Nigeria now for the multitude of idlers, detractors and covert saboteurs is the administration of the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in the country. It swirled like harmattan breeze with every frenzy.
The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) took delivery of the 3.92 million doses of the highly priced and scare vaccine in the determined efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to secure public health. Mr. President has his eyes fixated on curbing the spread of the global Coronavirus pandemic; but those who perpetually pray for misfortunes to strike the country had already perfected plans to frustrate the inoculation process.
All manner of contorted tales were churned out to incite public rejection of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. There were those contracted to campaign against the vaccine as a killer stuff released to Africa by Western countries to cause mass deaths in the plot to reduce the over bloated population of African continent. Social media activists also aligned it to disease-causing or inducement drug which would permanently keep those who succumbed to its vaccination hospitalized to death.
Yet, others linked the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to some indiscernible prohibitive cultural practices or abominations. But all the narratives sounded plausible only to the dimwitted. In spite of the gang-up to falsely chorus the failure of the Buhari Presidency on public health care delivery, the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine is steadily on course in Nigeria. What appeared like an initial impediment in the exercise is fizzling out.
The only obstacle to the effective administration of Covid-19 vaccine in Nigeria now is the furtherance of this national sabotage by the evildoers with the manufacturing and circulation of fake Coronavirus vaccines. Those who have fallen prey to these antics by accepting Covid-19 vaccines from the black market have mortgaged their lives to the unconscionable actions of some fraudulent Nigerians. It has been timed to coincide with the administration of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) approved AstraZeneca vaccines to create confusion.
Recently, a miffed management of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC) had to issue a public caution about the largescale and disturbing presence of fake Covid-19 vaccines in circulation. NAFDAC was blunt that it has not approved any local Covid-19 vaccine as bandied in public and the varieties of fake Covid-19 vaccines in circulation are responsible for the “Covid-like illnesses or other serious diseases that could kill” in people who have used it.
That’s why it is advisable to take Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines only in Government designated medical facilities or institutions. To be forewarned, is to be forearmed!
Therefore, the skeptics, cynics and twisters of the reality are eventually finding themselves standing against naked truth with the fleshless propaganda. If there is a conspiracy to kill Africans through the Covid-19 vaccine, it implies that Nigeria is not the only country to fall into the trap in Africa, nay the world.
African countries like Ghana, Core d’Ivoire and other nations on the continent are massively vaccinating their citizens with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines. WHO alongside with other international health bodies have approved scores of Covid-19 vaccines certified as safe and healthy for global usage. But Oxford AstraZeneca which is in use in Nigeria is rated as one of the best from the fleet principally because it has the potency to also boost human immune system.
The British Prime Minister has also been inoculated with the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. In Nigeria, President Buhari; the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and other top Government functionaries have all been inoculated with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in turns.
Nigerians are very complex people to handle on public issues. Some people tend more to embrace darkness than light. Had the Buhari Presidency failed to acquire the Covid-19 vaccines, there would have been a lot of blackmailing campaigns on his person and Government by the egoistic opposition or some disgruntled elements. Now that the vaccines have been acquired, the campaigns have tilted to dissuading Nigerians from taking the inoculations, basing the arguments on unfounded conspiracy theories.
But the Englishman says, “tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” President Buhari has found reliable allies in the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. They are wonderful Nigerians who are spending sleepless nights in deflating the malicious campaigns against the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and, simultaneously working round the clock in ensuring effective distribution and inoculation of Nigerians against Covid-19 disease. Every member of the team has performed excellently and deserves national recognition and honours for the utmost commitment and hard work.
However, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director/ CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is an exceptional character on the team of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. He is a complete workman who knows how to execute the briefs of his office faultlessly in times of national public health emergency.
Dr. Shuaib is one individual who has been able to justify the mandate of his office especially in this tough time. Firstly, the choice of AstraZeneca vaccine, with zero medical complications, aside boosting body immunity and protecting the body against other diseases’ have busted the potency of the baseless conspiracy theories concocted against the vaccine from certain quarters.
It is a thing of exceeding joy that for the several weeks Nigerians are being inoculated with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, no single incident of post-inoculation health complications to date. It is the worthiest proof of its efficacy and health guarantee. It is reason, even volunteers have enlisted in the persuasive campaigns which are fast gaining currency throughout the country.
The NPHCDA boss’s ingenuity is gleaned in the brilliant strategies he adopted to distribute the vaccines and the initial administration of the AstraZeneca on certain categories of Nigerians across the country. Dr. Faisal Shuaib, streamlined the first categories of Nigerians to be immunized to include, high profile leaders, military and paramilitary workers and health personnel whose jobs expose them to frequent contacts with multitudes every day.
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), the apex medical body in the country has also attested to the validity, safety and potency of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccines as its members are massively inoculating themselves against the pandemic. The good tidings is that some branches of the NMA are now at the forefront of leading public awareness campaigns to dispel the misgivings and urging Nigerians to come out en masses for vaccination.
Only recently, the Chairman of the Delta state chapter of NMA, Dr. Emmanuel Nwose, led other executive members, on a ‘School COVID-19 Awareness Programme,’ at the Unity Model Secondary School, Agbarho in Ughelli North Council area of the state. Had AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine any defects, the medical experts and practitioners are in the best position to know and reject it; but certainly, not some roadside artisans.
And most pleasurably, the seamless distribution of the vaccine across the country by the NPHCDA in record time is an apt indication that things can rightly be done in the right manner in Nigeria under the right leadership. Dr. Shuaib has symbolized or perfectly demonstrated and expressed this leadership. Indirectly, the NPHCDA boss is messaging the generality of Nigerians that the problem of the country is not of scarce human or material resources, but of genuine and committed leadership which is ready accept the responsibility to deliver on all assignments.
Dr. Faisal Shuaib, unlike other heads of government agencies, is evidently a very brilliant physician who has deployed humility, maturity, clarity of purpose and understanding of the pandemic to convert some naysayers who never gave the NPHCDA a chance to do its job. Today, some of these earlier anti-vaccine activists are singing praises of the NPHCDA in hushed tones to cover their shame. Leadership is indeed what Nigerians need and that’s all Nigerians demand every day.
Agada is an administrator and wrote from Guzape, Abuja.