The secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha, on Thursday, revealed the federal government’s plan on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for every of its worker.
Mustapha made the disclosure during the meeting of the Health Commissioners Forum with Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and health partners, in Abuja.
He said the federal government will institute mandatory vaccination once it ensures that vaccines are available for everyone.
“Let me state, however, that federal government shall, very shortly unveil its decision on mandatory vaccination for every employee in its service,” he said.
He added that the government plans mandatory vaccination for federal civil servants because of the role they perform not just within the country but also on behalf of the federal government with other countries, some of whom have started insisting on compulsory COVID-19 vaccination, adding that the acquisition of sufficient doses that will enable the country vaccinate 70 per cent of the population was in progress.
According to him, “As at date over 4.6 million Nigerians have been vaccinated fully or have received the first dose”
The SGF urged the forum to discuss issues around vaccine hesitancy across the country and come up with solutions.
He said, “You should in the course of this meeting, deliberate on the challenges caused by vaccine hesitancy all over the country. It is expected that you will come with policy alternatives as solutions.
“The Federal Government also expects that you will find time as policy and decision makers, to also address the root causes of incessant labour crisis in the health sector.”
Speaking further, Mustapha called on members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to call off their strike, saying any form of strike is unnecessary in the midst of a pandemic.
Also speaking at the event, the minister of state for health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, said there was need for increased funding for the health sector, saying the basic underlying factors around issues and challenges in the sector was funding.
“Even if you have enough human resources in the health sector, you need to take care of emoluments, incentives, therefore you need funding period that is why we need to find ways of increasing the funding in the health sector.
“We need to begin to tax commodities like alcohol, cigarettes, etc., which causes a lot of damage to the human body; therefore, the where the whole thing will end is in the health sector, therefore increasing the spending in the health sector. That is why we are saying that if people take these things, let us find a way to put some tax on it so that we can get some money to fund the health sector in addition to existing funding structures,” Mamora said.
On NARD strike, the minister said
“As a medical practitioner myself, I am not saying that some of the issues raised are not genuine and legitimate, but we are saying that at this point in time, this is a period of pandemic. This is a period where almost the whole world is on its knees.
“Therefore it is not a time to start straining the health system. Even in a war situation you still come back to a round table.
“So my approach from day one is let us dialogue over these things. Secondly you need to know the system in which we operate. The way the Civil Service generally is structured is that you do not have a quick fix. There are processes and procedures that you need to go through to get things done. There is therefore a need for dialogue and patience in the overall interest of the oath that we all took as doctors on graduation, which is primarily that your
patient shall be your first concern,” he added.
Chairman of the health commissioners forum, Dr Betta Edu, said the commissioners met to brainstorm on ways partnerships and policies can be harnessed for a resilient health sector and advancement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Director-general of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum(NGF), Asishana Okauru, said the priorities in health include the acceleration of the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, improving nutrition especially for women and under-five children, strengthening routine immuniaation and domestication of the National Action Plan on Health Security.
He pointed out that over the years the NGF secretariat has maintained a deep engagement with national and state MDAs and commissioners of health are central to the engagement.