Government plans to sanction Nigerians who refuse COVID-19 vaccination

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The plan by the Federal Government to sanction eligible Nigerians who refuse COVID-19 vaccination and the cholera epidemic, which has been silently growing nationwide since beginning of the year are some of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers recently.

The Guardian reports that amid reactions to the declaration by Edo and Ondo states regarding restricted access to public places for unvaccinated residents, the Federal Government may sanction eligible Nigerians who refuse COVID-19 vaccination.

The hint was dropped yesterday by the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, at a briefing in Abuja.

Shuaib said the government may “apply the basic rule of law” against such people because they will be endangering the lives of other people.

He said: “The Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health is exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians including federal civil servants and corporate entities. Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, we would need to have a frank discussion about justice, fairness and liberty that exist around vaccine hesitancy.

“If some individuals refuse to take the vaccine, hence endangering those who have or those who could not due to medical exemptions, then we have to apply the basic rule of law, which stipulates that your human right stops where mine begins. So, you have a right to refuse vaccines, but you do not have the right to endanger the health of others.”

The Vanguard says that the cholera epidemic, which has been silently growing nationwide since beginning of the year, is currently taking its toll across communities in the country, with 2,035 deaths, 58,698 suspected cases and a case fatality ratio, CFR, of 3.5 per cent reported in 305 local government areas in 23 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

The World Health Organisation, WHO, describes cholera as an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the bacterium, vibrio cholerae and remains a global threat to public health.

It also described the disease as an indicator of inequity and lack of social development.

Nigeria is one of the countries consistently hit annually. Investigations by Vanguard showed that although the NCDC reported 23 states, almost every state has reported one case or the other.

As the situation gradually worsens, Minister of Environment, Mohammad Abubakar, and Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Iheakweazu, have warned that Nigeria will continue to experience large cholera outbreaks in the absence of clean water, poor sanitation practices and open defecation.

But in a reaction, President of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Professor Innocent Ujah, charged the Federal Government to take immediate steps towards containing the disease, saying Nigeria created the environment for the diseases to thrive.

ThisDay reports that Nigeria’s Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu has been appointed Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in charge of Health Emergency Intelligence with effect from November 1, 2021

A statement issued last night by the WHO Director General, Dr Tedros said Ihekweazu will lead the work on strengthening pandemic and epidemic intelligence globally, including heading the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin.

He said: “I am pleased to welcome Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu as an Assistant Director-General for Health Emergency Intelligence from November 1, 2021. He will lead the work on strengthening pandemic and epidemic intelligence globally, including heading the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin”.

”I am confident that Dr Ihekweazu’s appointment will help further accelerate WHO’s work in health emergencies. Please join me in welcoming him to WHO”.

Ihekweazu is currently the Director-General of Nigeria Center for Disease Control.

He was trained as an infectious disease epidemiologist, has over 20 years of experience working in senior public health and leadership positions in several National Public Health Institutes, including the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency, and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI). He has led several short-term engagements for WHO, mainly in response to major infectious disease outbreaks around the world.

The Punch says that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies will meet on Wednesday (today) to decide whether to press on with plans to increase crude oil production by 400,000 barrels per day every month.

The group, known as OPEC+, seeks to eventually eliminate its historic output cuts implemented at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global oil benchmark, Brent crude, fell by $0.44 to $72.97 per barrel as of 7:28 pm Nigerian time on Wednesday. After a couple of weeks of wrangling, OPEC+ resolved on July 18 to increase their overall production by 400,000bpd on a monthly basis starting from August until phasing out the 5.8 million bpd production adjustment.

The resolution put an end to an acrimonious spat between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which had arisen after the UAE had objected to Saudi Arabia’s plan to tie OPEC+ production increases to a lengthening of the supply management pact. S&P Global Platts reported on Tuesday that OPEC continued to forecast robust oil demand in the months ahead, bolstering the case for the bloc and its partners to keep raising output, despite a volatile market that was still assessing the impact of Hurricane Ida and stubbornly high COVID-19 infections.

The Sun reports that four years ago when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, signed the Executive Order for 24-hour operations at the Apapa port and banned touting by officials or unofficial persons at any port; be it air, land and sea ports in the country,

it was with the intention to enhnace trade facilitation. He had directed all the government agencies, present at Nigerian Ports, to harmonise their operations in 60 days, into one single interface station domiciled in one location in the port implemented by a single joint task force at all times, without prejudice to necessary backend procedures.

The new single interface station at each port, the order stipulates, “shall capture, track and record information on all goods arriving and departing from Nigeria and remit captured information to the head of the MDA and the head of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on a weekly basis.’’ Following the Order, some government agencies were sent packing from the ports.

Today however, most of them are back to the ports to continue with physical examination of cargoes. This means that there a total lack of compliance with Osinbajo’s directive and executive order.


GIK/APA