26 February 2013

Nigeria: FG to Vaccinate All Nigerians Against Yellow Fever

The Federal Government is to vaccinate all Nigerians against yellow fever in May to prevent a possible disaster in the event of an outbreak of epidemic from a neighbouring country.

Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, disclosed this Monday in Abuja while launching a new Yellow Card to replace the old one that had been adulterated which had led to a diplomatic face-off between South Africa and Nigeria, some months ago when Nigerians were deported from the country.

At the event, the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Jason Rivers, said the global body was collaborating with the Federal Government to ensure that the certificate of the vaccination, also known as yellow card, was of international standard.

He pledged the WHO's total support for the programme.

"We will have mass vaccination of all Nigerians by May this year so that people of Nigeria will be well protected. Nigeria is prepared to ensure people get vaccinated; obey international health regulations and that only those who should have access to the card do so," Chukwu said.

This was so, he explained, because the new Yellow Card was highly regulated and had six security features that would make it difficult to counterfeit.

Chukwu gave this indication in his keynote address at the 56th Pre-National Council on Health (NCH) meeting.

He said the action was a follow-up to the decisions taken at the 55th NCH meeting which recommended that the Federal Ministry of Health should proceed with the introduction of the new Yellow Cards with advanced security features.

Chukwu said the 55th Health Council also recommended the centralised production of the cards by the Health ministry and ensure the distribution of the cards by National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to tally with Yellow Fever vaccines distributed; as well as a transition period of six months to withdraw the old Yellow Cards after the introduction of the new ones.

He recalled the recommendation that all national programmes must be seen to align their interventions with Nigeria's National MDG Countdown Strategy and continue to work with the MDG secretariat towards making significant progress in achieving the Health MDGs, by 2015.

Towards this end, the standard operational guidelines for medical check-ups are to be revised to include dental records and other relevant medical data in view of the importance of dental profiling in aiding forensic and criminal investigations and recommended the creation of dental units in all hospitals in order to actualise the new policy.

It added that further action on traditional medical practice should be delayed until the outcome of the traditional medicine bill and urged all States that are affected by the practice (traditional medical practice) to develop and implement mechanism for regulation of the activities of traditional medicine practitioners to protect the health of the populace.

It said drug and poison information units should be established in a phased manner, in all primary, secondary and tertiary public health facilities in Nigeria.

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