The Nigerian government has made known its plans to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all federal civil servants.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said this in Abuja on Thursday during a meeting of the Health Commissioners Forum with federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and health partners.
The theme of the forum is “Building a stronger health sector in Nigeria through collaboration and strategic partnership.”
The meeting was primarily to discuss ways to strengthen the health system at the sub-national levels, with an overall objective of achieving the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Mr Mustapha, who doubles as the chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), said the COVID-19 vaccination will be compulsory for federal civil servants once vaccines are available for everyone.
“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.
“Let me state, however, that federal government shall, very shortly, unveil its decision on mandatory vaccination for every employee in its service.”
He said the country did not have sufficient vaccines at the moment and so will not institute the mandatory vaccination immediately.
“One of the reasons why we want to do that with the federal civil service is because they will be travelling on behalf of the nation.
“Assuming the American government said, you can’t come into their country unless you’re vaccinated? So you have to be vaccinated.
“It’s a sequential thing and we are taking one step at a time, because, we realize we don’t have sufficient vaccine in the country at the moment,” he said.
Mr Mustapha said collaboration is key to the success of the national response to the pandemic which has infected almost 200,000 persons in the country.
He said all levels of government must work together to achieve a greater impact in the health sector.
He said; “Nigeria has a system of government, while you have the federal government, the state governments with their separate responsibilities with that of the local government.
“I’m so comfortable that the levels of government have their responsibilities assigned to them.
“But unless you have a form of partnership between the two types of government, you will find yourself either replicating the same thing or duplicating efforts.
“And that would amount to a waste of resources, but if we are collaborating, you will know exactly what each segment is doing and you will be able to apportion resources proportionately, across the board in different responsibilities,” he said.
He noted that the pandemic came with a storm and exposed the weaknesses in the country’s health system.
“The story would have been different in the country if not for the collaboration of states and partners,” he said.
Mr Mustapha urged all stakeholders to play their roles in a complementary manner to ensure the safety of the lives of Nigerians.
In his remarks, Jeremie Zoungrana, Country Director for Nigeria at Gate Foundation Africa, noted that the country’s response to the pandemic had shown that health is at the forefront of its development objective.
Mr Zoungrana added that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would continue to support Nigeria to strengthen the health system.