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Africa Needs To Engage In Community Networks To Scale Up COVID-19 Vaccination, WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has hinted that Africa needs to engage community networks to scale up vaccination in the continent.

The WHO Regional Director Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, gave the hint at the launching of “S.C.A.L.E.S 2.0” Strategy by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency in Abuja.

While adding that, the issue of vaccines has been very challenging in Africa and commended the lunch.

According to him, “It’s a great pleasure for me to be able to join you here today and I commend the action the government and partners are taking to re-launch the S.C.A.L.E.S version two. First I’d like to commend the government for all the efforts it has made in taking on the COVID-19 pandemic in its various facets including providing vaccination to the people of Nigeria. And to thank you for taking this step to reflect, learn from the first phase of this response“.

Moeti also stated that African, especially Nigeria has learnt great lessons on how to leverage decentralizing the delivery of vaccines to the citizens.

She added that it was important for the government to build trust through working with community leaders.

Her words, “We have seen in many countries in Africa, not only in Nigeria people hesitating. There are many concerns being expressed on the international media at the local level about this.  So, engaging communities, working through community leader, religious leaders, trusted sources of information, community networks, is going to be extremely important. 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire while speaking at the Launch of S.C.A.L.E.S 2.0 Strategy with the of Use Single Dose Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and Vaccination Site Finder, said the SCALES strategy has proven to be quite effective in ramping up COVID-19 vaccination coverage but the proportion of fully vaccinated Nigerians is still very low, partly because Nigeria has been using two-dose vaccines.

but the proportion of fully vaccinated Nigerians is still very low, partly because we have been using two-dose vaccines.

Unfortunately, most people are reluctant to take their second dose for various reasons including fear of a repeat of the mild side effects they may have experienced with the first dose.

The federal government, through NPHCDA, continues to strive to make COVID-19 Vaccination more accessible to the people, saying, “I am glad that every Nigerian can now be guided to the nearest COVID-19 vaccination site, from the comfort of their homes and from their phones”.

Ehanire gave this hint on Monday at the launch of S.C.A.L.E 2.0 Strategy with the use of Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccine and vaccination site finder for COVID-19 mass vaccination in Nigeria.

According to him, “There is a unique opportunity to leverage the SCALES strategy using COVID-19 vaccination structures and resources to improve Routine Immunization (RI) coverage, with improved efficiency and reduced duplication of efforts by health care workers. This is to ensure that while controlling the transmission of COVID-19, Nigeria does not become a fertile ground for outbreak of childhood vaccine preventable diseases by rapidly increasing RI uptake alongside COVID-19 uptake.

“It has become imperative that we launch the SCALES 2.0 Strategy, which entails the integration of COVID-19 vaccination with childhood routine immunization for eligible adults 18 years and above and children zero to two years respectively, leveraging Mass Vaccination Campaigns, Routine Immunization Fixed sessions, Outreach services and Mobile services. We are also formally rolling out the Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccine while introducing the COVID-19 vaccination site finder.

“This means that all childhood vaccination, including administration of vitamin A, will now be done alongside COVID-19 vaccination at COVID-19 vaccination sites. Eligible children will now be able to receive their BCG, Penta 3, OPV 3, OPV 1&2, Measles, Yellow Fever vaccines, as well as Vitamin A supplement, at the sites where the adults receive COVID-19 vaccines. This is the good news we are bringing to Nigerians today.

Similarly, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the agency will continue to strengthen vaccine security and accountability through the NPHCDA Joint Task Force on Vaccine Monitoring and Accountability.

He added that partners, communities and stakeholders will continue to be engaged to ensure inclusiveness and transparency in decision making and other processes involved in COVID-19 vaccination and overall health care delivery in Nigeria

Also, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Peter Hawkins reiterated the fact that “no one is safe until everyone is safe”.

He, however, urged everyone to continue protecting themselves for the good of all.

The S.C.A.L.E.S. 2.0 Strategy which stands for Service Delivery Communication Accountability Logistics (Electronic Management Information System) Supportive Supervision, aimed at improving routine immunization in Nigeria.

Recall that it was introduced in November 2021 by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency(NPHCDA) to rapidly ramp up COVID-19 vaccine coverage by expanding access to COVID-19 Vaccines.

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