The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has pledged to work with relevant stakeholders to facilitate equitable COVID-19 vaccine access.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu gave the pledge when Mr David Anyaele, the Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CDD), a Non-Governmental Organisation, visited him to present a research report on access to COVID-19 vaccine among Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Abuja.
Ihekweazu, who expressed concern over the multiplicity of challenges faced by PWDs in the country, stressed NCDC’s determination to tailor its programmes to the needs of PWDs.
“This will enable us shape the way we work internally and also shape our engagements with the public,’’ he said.
Ihekweazu, who pointed out that the issue relating to vaccine was not directly under his purview, promised to collaborate with the bodies responsible for COVID-19 vaccines, to ensure that Nigerians had equitable access, particularly PWDs.
According to him, COVID-19 has brought to the fore the need to think broadly on how we try reaching people with information related to our interventions.
“We will include you in our database when we communicate in our thinking; when we work. We will really work with you to shape our thinking around the implementation of the things we want to do.
“In the things that are directly under our control and influence at the moment, in terms of testing or supporting you with some Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) materials, we will work out something to see that you are fairly well stocked for your members to ensure you are safe.
Earlier, Anyaele had pointed out that PWDs were facing a multiple challenges that often undermined their access to social and health care services.
He emphasised the need for adequate enlightenment, particularly among PWDs who live in rural areas, to understand the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.
PWDs living in rural areas do not have access to COVID-19 related information adding that government’s response to it did not prioritise the needs of PWDs, Anyaele said, pointing out that this meant they were not targeted with the right information.
“We are worried that there is no deliberate structure, policy or guideline that speaks to how PWDs will be able to access vaccines and it is becoming an issue.
“Just recently, Edo state government declared that without being vaccinated you won’t be allowed in government programmes.
“And if such policies are being implemented without measures put in place to ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccine, it means the state is leading institutionalised discrimination, particularly against people with disabilities,’’ Anyaele said. (NAN)