By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Lagos State government said it has engaged the services of no fewer than 135 private health facilities into the Lagos State government’s mass vaccination strategy.
This brings to 360, the number of public and private vaccination sites in Lagos.
The initiative is targeted at vaccinating four million residents by December 2021.
The State’s Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, disclosed this at a news briefing during the weekend, according to information from the ministry’s public affairs department.
Abayomi explained that the 360 vaccination sites, comprising the 135 private health facilities and 225 existing public vaccination sites have been earmarked for the mass vaccination campaign.
He said the enrolled private facilities were engaged after a rigorous selection and accreditation process that hinged on quality assurance, vaccine safety and follow-up care.
He added that the list of accredited private and public facilities is available on the website of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and official communication channels of the Lagos State Government.
According to the commissioner, the State government decided to partner with the private sector to rapidly ramp up COVID-19 vaccination in order to achieve herd immunity.
He noted that the State government decided to leverage on both the strengths of the public and private sectors of the healthcare system with a full understanding that a substantial proportion of the population will need to be vaccinated to mitigate the impact of a fourth wave in Lagos and reduce the impact of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and prevent the re-emergence of the catastrophy witnessed during the previous waves of the pandemic.
He said: “The decision to leverage on the private sector is based solely on our resolve to include private health facilities and corporate institutions as additional sites for the COVID-19 vaccination administration. This is in furtherance of effort to increase the reach and access to the available vaccines provided through the generous contributions and donations by the Federal Government and our donors.
“By doing this, we are once again recognizing the impact of the collaboration between the public and private sector for healthcare and strengthening the link for far-reaching initiatives in the State.
“We also understand that there are citizens, who for personal reasons, would prefer to receive the vaccine at the comfort of a private facility. It is important that such citizens should not be deprived access to the vaccine especially as this negates the principle of vaccine equity. Therefore, the involvement of the private sector is important”.
Abayomi added that the Lagos State Government, through the Primary Health Care Board, does not have the capacity alone to ramp up vaccination to a massive level in such a short time and before the deadline without partnering with the private sector.
He explained that the inclusion of the private health facilities into the public private partnership is similar to the strategy deployed by the State for escalating COVID-19 testing which resulted in a dramatic increase in testing done in Lagos from an average of 200 a day to over 2,000 a day, culminating in a total of 800,000 tests in less than a year and Lagos State accounting for more than 30% alone of all COVID-19 PCR tests done in Nigeria.
“This demonstrates the power of public private partnerships, with the inclusion of the significant capacity of the private sector but the government retaining strict regulatory oversight and quality function”, he said.
The Commissioner averred that vaccinating four million residents with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, will bring the State closer to achieving the mandate of the Lagos State Governor to vaccinate 30% of the Lagos population within one year.
He added that this is a concerted effort to achieve the World Health Organization’s (WHO) target of vaccinating 40% of the world before the end of this year.
Abayomi noted that registration for vaccination at public and private health facilities will be done online on the website of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) – https://nphcda.vaccination.gov.ng
The Commissioner urged members of the public who wish to be vaccinated at any of the accredited public or private vaccination sites to visit the NPHCDA website to register and schedule their vaccination or register on arrival at any of the 360 public and private vaccination sites.
“It is imperative to emphasize that the vaccines administered in public facilities are free and would remain free to the public as they were contributed to us by the Federal Government and our donor partners, those wishing to receive the vaccines can register and visit any of the designated 225 government facilities and receive their dose totally free of charge.
“However, those that wish to receive the vaccines within the comforts of a private facility can do so at a minimal administrative cost of N6,000 for two doses which covers the cost that the private sector will incur to facilitate the administration of the vaccine which includes logistics, personnel, quality oversight, administrative and overhead costs.
“I wish to note that no one is compelled to receive their vaccines at any private facility as the vaccines in both are of the same quality and brand. We have also invested in training of our public personnel so that the customer experience in our public facilities would be matched equally with that of the private sector.
“It is important again to emphasize that the COVID vaccines donated to Lagos by the Federal Government is FREE and its administration comes at no cost to citizens who visit any of the designated public vaccination sites located across the 57 local government areas and local council development areas of the State. It is equally important to mention that our public and private vaccination sites have the capacity to effectively administer the COVID vaccines on any person who visits irrespective of class, social or religion inclination or tribe”, Abayomi said.
By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos