About 80 percent of Primary Health Centers (PHCs) in 15 states in the country are unfit to administer COVID-19 vaccination, according to a Civil Society Organization, Connected Development (CODE).
Since the index was recorded last year in February, Nigeria continues to battle with the pandemic after recording more than 166,730 cases and 2,117 deaths.
Consequently, due to the government’s insensitivity to the health sector, only 20 percent of the Primary Health Care Centers in 15 states are equipped to administer the vaccine to persons who fall into the category.
According to the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, Nigeria received 3.92 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in March 2021, the first delivery of the expected 16 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, to commence the vaccination of citizens in priority groups.
In its latest report, CODE embarked on a field-based research work to assess the readiness of the PHCs to receive, store and effectively administer vaccines, randomly selecting 90 PHCs across 15 states from the six geo-political zones in the country.
This research, coupled with an online campaign, was launched to advocate for transparency in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and equally drive for the standardization of PHCs.
According to CODE, the first point of call for health care in any country – as part of the core objectives of the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP), a two-phased project supported by Conrad Hilton Foundation and Skoll Foundation, and executed by BudgIT Foundation, Connected Development and Global Integrity.
CODE said that it discovered that while the pandemic continues its threat, though in its decreasing state in the early part of this year, vulnerable populations in the country are unable to receive proper medical care due to the huge deficit of health infrastructure.
After three months of fieldwork and data analysis, the organisation found that at least 80 percent of the 90 health centres fall below the minimum PHC standard set by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), with their grossly dilapidated infrastructure, poor and inadequate staffing, and incapacity to administer vaccines.
“The condition of the Primary Health Care centres (PHCs) where citizens receive treatment, and vaccines would be stored and administered became a matter of utmost concern to us at CODE,” says Busayo Morakinyo, community engagement director, CODE.
“For instance, two out of every ten facilities do not have any form of electricity; they supplement natural light with lanterns or torchlights. Thirty (30) percent have no access to clean water, thus relying on water from sources like wells and rain water, stored in tanks. With regards to vaccines’ storage and administration, only 56 out of the 90 PHCs assessed have the recommended pharmaceutical fridge to host vaccines. Our research also found that a number of the PHCs received less than 10 vials of the COVID-19 vaccine, which brought to question the checklist that informed such numbers for a facility that serves a community of nothing less than 1000 people.
“However, some PHCs have shown effort into providing minimum standard health services.”
The civil group also found that the common service denominator amongst all the PHCs is that 90 percent of the facilities provide ante-natal and maternity care. However, the absence of sufficient personnel brings into question the quality of care mother’s and babies receive.