From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Barring any last minute change in plans, federal civil servants would soon be subjected to compulsory COVID-19 vaccination as part of the plan to weaken the strength of the disease in Nigeria.
However, the government assured that the sufficient dose of the vaccine would be made available before the policy on compulsory vaccination for civil servants would be implemented.
Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who disclosed the information at the Nigeria Health Commissioners’ Forum meeting in Abuja, on Thursday, said that federal civil servants are representatives of the government and they could be assigned to represent the government at public functions, locally or internationally, hence the need to be fully vaccinated.
He said: “The vaccine mandate will soon come. The world is gravitating towards that direction. I can confirm to you that by the time western countries are done vaccinating its people, unvaccinated persons won’t be allowed access into any of the western countries without the vaccine certificate. So, it’s better we begin to prepare our people at home.”
He, thus, registered his concern that Nigeria has been experiencing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases lately, but assured Nigerians that the response team are working assiduously with reinvigorated approach to contain the community transmission, thus soliciting for more support from Nigerians.
He added: “It’s time to cease the opportunity of COVID-19 to reposition the health sector because after COVID-19, the sector will not get the attention it is getting now.”
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, in his remarks, said the federal government was working towards increasing domestic resources for the health sector by pooling ‘sin’ taxes on tobacco and other products.
He said doing so was important because funding has been the major challenge of the health sector, adding, “we need to begin to tax commodities like alcohol, and cigarettes, among others which causes a lot of damage to the human body.
“That is why we are saying that if people take these things, let us find a way to put some tax on it so that we can get some money to fund the health sector in addition to existing funding structures,” Mamora said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Health Commissioners’ Forum, Dr. Betta Edu, explained that the objective of the meeting was to brainstorm on ways of partnerships and champion policies that could be harnessed for a resilient health sector and advancement of Universal Health Coverage.