From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) Vaccines Taskforce has recommended compensation for citizens who suffer side effects or injury from the COVID-19 vaccination.
The Director- General, the West African Health Organization, Prof Stanley Okolo, said this one of the resolutions by the taskforce and presented to the ECOWAS Ministerial Coordinating Committee to encourage citizens to receive the vaccines.
He spoke at the 5th Regional Steering Committee meeting of the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Programme project in Abuja.
He said at the REDISSE meeting which held virtually due to the current surge of COVID-19 pandemic and the recent Ebola outbreak in Guinea, that the issue of indemnity was being taken up by the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, the global initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and others.
Okolo said, “Normally, vaccine development takes five years or even, seven, eight years. Now therefore, we have to think of how to share the indemnity in terms of if any problem develops.
“That is one of the issues now being taken up by COVAX, the global body that has been set up by WHO, GAVID to look at how they indemnify some of the companies regarding the vaccines they supplied. It’s not so much as indemnify but making sure there are reasoned claims against the companies.
“But in addition, member countries, whether in Africa, West Africa Europe or Asia have to think about the supplementary or residual indemnity for their people and that’s one of the things that we are discussing in the ECOWAS Vacines Taskforce and we have already shared it with the 5th Ministerial Coordinating Committee and one of the resolutions is that member countries should ensure that they support that so that if there is any significant side effects or injury, we haven’t seen that yet, in countries that are vaccinated widely, that member states should look to compensate those citizens.”
According to the DG WAHO, the objective of the Regional Steering Committee meeting was to assess the implementation of the REDISSE project, evaluate progress achieved towards meeting project objectives, and make recommendations for enhancing the implementation and achieving the objectives.
According to him, the implementation of the recommendations of the last Regional Steering Committee meeting held in Lome in November 2, 2019 would be assessed.
The report of the Technical Committee meeting on the level of implementation of the 2020 AWPBs and PPs of countries, implementing partners (WHO, OIE, RAHC, CCISD, FMx, University of Ghana, University of Ouagadougou 1) and WAHO is analyzed and validated;
“Recommendations to improve the implementation of the project are made,” he said.