The Nigeria Governors Forum has dissociated itself from a statement by a member and Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, about coronavirus conspiracy theories.
It also set up a committee of experts headed by Prof. Oyewole Tomori to advise members on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines expected to arrive in Nigeria in February.
The decision was taken after the NGF received briefings from three medical experts, including Tomori, a leading virologist and former Vice- Chancellor of Redeemer’s University of Nigeria; Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, and the founder/Managing Director of Synlab Nigeria, Dr Pamela Ajayi, among others.
The Chairman of the NGF and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, said this in a communiqué he signed after a virtual meeting of the forum on Wednesday, which was made public on Thursday.
It read in part, “Following the presentations, the Forum set up a team of experts, led by Prof. Oyewale Tomori, to advice state governors on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines in the country.
“The NGF Chairman, Dr Kayode Fayemi, briefed State governors on a meeting with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, on the rollout of the COVAX facility, which is a global risk-sharing mechanism co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization to facilitate pooled procurement and the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across developing countries. Nigeria is among 12 countries in Africa that have indicated readiness of the 92 qualified countries for the facility and will by the end of February 2021 receive its first shipment of vaccines.
“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency has indicated that vaccines will be administered in four phases, based on vaccine type and availability, initially for frontline health workers, then the aged (55 years and above), persons with underlying medical conditions and other target groups.
“On the ill-fated pronouncement made by a member of the Forum regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in a national daily, the Forum totally and categorically dissociated itself from the statement, emphasising that the Forum will continue to be informed and guided by science and will ensure that every decision it takes retains public and professional trust and is not compromised by conflicts of interest.”
The governors also agreed to do more to reactivate their health systems, open-up treatment centres and increase partnerships with stakeholder groups in order to improve risk communication and the public’s adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.
They also committed to increasing budgetary allocations to the health sector to reduce enteric infections and over 255, 000 preventable deaths in Nigeria each year.
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