Without Foreign Donors’ Support, We Can’t Deliver Covid-19 Vaccines To Grassroots- FG

The Federal Government has said that Nigeria and other African countries cannot fund Covid-19 vaccine delivery and uptake to community level without support from foreign donors.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosure during a virtual meeting, on Friday.

COVAX, co-led by the vaccine alliance, GAVI and the World Health Organisation has pledged about 20 per cent of doses to Africa, which will only cover 300 million people in low and middle-income countries.

On Tuesday, Nigeria received 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility, COVAX.

But the Finance Minister said, “Understanding the urgency of the moment, there needs to be greater inclusion and involvement of Finance Ministers, as budgetary allocations need to be made and financing secured both locally and possibly internationally.”

Considering how challenging it is in preparing for receipt of COVID-19 vaccines, roll out, and the real time information and funding gaps faced in the continent, Ahmed called for a simplified access to vaccine financing.

The Minister suggested that an act of global solidarity should be to support Finance Ministries with the necessary capacity required to complete what could often be a complex and laborious bureaucratic process.

She said, “What exactly are the existing mechanisms for countries to access? We have had bits and pieces of information. But to date, this has not been as coordinated as hoped.

She called for proposals from banks on how countries could access finance mechanisms and support from other sources to help Ministries of Finance to easily and quickly apply funding.

The Minister said funding needs should be flexible to support purchase or delivery and possible Corporate Social Responsibility from banks.

Ahmed said, “We welcome this opportunity to dialogue with one another and also with many of our international partners and friends to find joint solutions to this pandemic and enable us recover and build back quickly.

“We look forward to a commitment of greater transparency of information for future planning across health and finance and potential mechanisms for such transparency and information sharing.”    

Other participant at the event said the continent needed to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of its population as the 20 per cent doses from COVAX was too low.

The participants pointed out that vaccine procurement through African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team was a welcome initiative as it would reduces costs.

They further called on high income countries to support the initiative of Africans helping Africa and also to consider the not inconsiderable costs of vaccine delivery.

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