Nigeria COVID-19 Vaccination Plans: Ensuring Equitable Allocation and Distribution

Ejalonibu, Ganiyu L. ; Abayomi, Kolapo Q. (2021-02)

Working Paper

The morbidity and mortality rates of the coronavirus, otherwise called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or COVID-19, ignited the urgency of developing and ensuring access to affordable, safe and efficacious vaccines with rapid and fair deployment in sight. Hopefully, Nigeria expects to take delivery of its first coronavirus vaccine doses in February 2021, with health workers, top government officials and vulnerable people to be given priority. National Assembly has approved that ₦10bn be set aside in the 2021 Appropriation Act. As huge as this money is, lack of supervision can hinder free, fair and equitable access to the vaccines. That’s why it is important that the legislature as the true representatives of the people and symbol of democracy should set up a comprehensive auditing, accountability and reporting mechanisms to monitor the entire process and uphold the citizens’ right to health and good living regardless of status, religion, ethnicity and race. Whilst the national response to the COVID-19 outbreak is led by the federal government through the Presidential Task Force (PTF), the National Assembly is constitutionally empowered to provide a legislative support to tackle the pandemic through the development and passage of relevant legislations to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on citizens and the economy, and perform oversight on the executive response to the pandemic. Summarily, the challenges Nigeria COVID-19 Vaccination plans may face as identified in this Brief may come inform of: Lack of transparency and accountability in the process of procurement of the vaccines; Entry of substandard and counterfeit vaccine products into markets; Theft of vaccines within the allocation and distribution channels, diversion to the black market or kept for personal use. This risk is particularly pronounced when supplies are limited, Diversion of government funding designated for the administration of the vaccines; Nepotism and favouritism; and Administration of the vaccine by unqualified personnel, especially, at the local and community levels.