Centre for 21st Century Issues

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By Olaolu Oladipo

The Lagos State Government has accorded the issue of global outbreak of Covid 19 with all the due attention it deserves and it is not in any way dropping the ball to ensure that the teeming populace are safe.

The state under the supervision of Governor Babajide Sanwoolu who doubles as the incident commander has been doing all within its means to manage the situation by throwing all it has into reversing the manifest situation that has turned Lagos the epicenter of the scourge in Nigeria.

Since the recorded case of the intrusion of the virus into the state, Lagos’s population size as well as the gateway to the country has continued to record the highest case of infection and fatalities.

Statistics from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its daily roaster have continued to rate the state high in fatalities and infection.

Apart from sustained media advocacy being waged by the state government via its Ministry of Information and Strategy, the counterparty Ministry of Health has continued to lead in efforts to curb the spread using several approaches.

To underscore the seriousness his government attaches to vaccination of Lagosians, Sanwo-Olu personally kicked off the vaccine rollout programme in March 22, this year when he and his Deputy, Dr. Babafemi Amzat got their first jabs of the serum supplied by the Federal Government.

They were both vaccinated at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Yaba. The occasion also saw the Deputy Incident Commander and Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi also taking his first shot.

Since then, the state government has rolled out the vaccine massively across the nooks and crannies of the state. Initially the process took place in just 92 public health centres (PHCs) where only AstraZeneca vaccines were administered to those that presented themselves to receive the jabs.

But when the second roll out began on the 22nd of August, the government further expanded access by opening up more PHCs to vaccinate the over 25 million residents of the state. From 92 centres, the figure climbed to 181. Not only that, the state has even extended the period to include weekends.

Plans are also afoot to ensure that the religious centres are bombarded especially on Sundays in a determined bid to race against time to get all residents vaccinated.

When the second round of vaccination commenced, the various centres had been well mobilized, equipped, staffed and kitted for the task ahead prompting visitation to some of them to ascertain the level of success vis a vis compliance with the relevant protocols and guidelines covering the exercise.

This reporter was assigned the job of monitoring the scheduling process as well as crowd control at selected centres in many parts of the state. The outcome reveals almost the same pattern of events and occurrences in many of them though with slight variations.

At about 10: 46 am on Tuesday, September 7, our correspondent was at the Pen Cinema Healthcare Centre to be confronted with a scene of orderly yet scanty crowd of would be as well as others who had obtained their first jabs.

The protocol was simple, provide the evidence of vaccination pre-registration, register and get your jab. When those who had secured their jabs were seen at a corner of the sprawling centre sitting on a bench observing the protocol of five minutes observation, others sat at another bench adjacent to them, waiting to be vaccinated.

Efforts to get any of the senior medical staff to speak with our correspondent was not successful as they were said to have gone away to attend some briefing at the Primary Healthcare Board. However, a staff member, who simply identified herself as Folasade spoke with Daily RIPPLES.

Asked how manageable has the crowd been since the commencement of the exercise then, she said, “We have been recording a gradual increase in the number of people coming forward to get vaccination.”

Pressed further to provide definite data as to the average number of those who visit the centre per day, she said, “Before, we used to record about 80 vaccination per day but now when the awareness commenced, the figure has jumped to 200 people per day.”

A visit to Ayobo-Ipaja Primary Healthcare Centre revealed the same pattern according to an official who volunteered to speak with our correspondent. The staff member, Mrs. Fatima Isah said, initially, there was low turnout but that has since given way to a huge turn out of people mostly the old and the elderly within the community.

“When we started, we vaccinated between 80 and 90 people but now the figure has jumped to almost 250 people per day. Most of those who come forward to get the shot are the elderly,” she said.

Isah attributed the upsurge to the efforts of the community development associations within the council areas whom she lauded for mobilizing the people, particularly the aged to come out in their numbers.

At the makeshift Staff Clinic inside the Oshodi-Isolo Local Government, a staff, Mr. Rachael Ayedun said, there has been gradual increase in the number of people, a development, she attributed to the efforts of stakeholders who have been mobilizing their members to besiege the centre.

Her position is further corroborated by another staff member, who simply identified himself as Mr. Saliu, “There has been a gradual increase especially within the community of those who are hearing impaired. I think it is the same for other segments of the society as those who come around usually go back to inform others.”

At Agbado Primary Health Centre, the turnout has not really witnessed any significant increase since the commencement of the exercise. “The situation has remained the same since we started. We have been recording between 120 and 150 vaccinations per day,” says Aminat B. Yusuf who simply identified herself as a medical worker.

Yusuf stated that though the centre had envisaged a large turn out of people and had gone ahead to set up three teams to carry out the task, the centre had not witnessed the envisaged huge crowd.

The situation at the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Primary Healthcare Centre in Oritshe, Ikeja seems somewhat different as turnout of people to be vaccinated skyrocketed a few days after the kickoff of the second phase.

An official who identified herself as the Assistance Officer for Community Healthcare, Mrs. A.A Raji told our correspondent that the management of the centre had to improvise on facilities available to be able to cope.

“When we started initially, there was not much in terms of crowd but by the third day, there was a lot of crowd and we had to create a waiting space for them at the adjourning school within the premises of the centre.” Raji said.

On scheduling of people for vaccination, all centres visited insisted that only those who have pre-registered to be vaccinated are given the shot. According to Folasade, “We only give the vaccine to those we have recorded as having been scheduled to get their vaccination here.”

According to her, personnel within the centre also assist those without access to the internet get registered. “We recognize that many people don’t have access to the computer or the android phone. Some are even illiterates, so what we do is to get out staff members to help them register and send confirmation codes to us.”

She however maintained that such help are offered free of charge to those who need it but a patient who spoke to our correspondent said she parted with the sum of N500 to get on the platform.

She however complained about the internet platform, which she claims usually slows down their work as it is in the habit of breaking down from time to time. The same complaint was made by Raji, Isah, Yusuf and Ayedun in their respective PHCs.

“We noticed that the internet usually has issues between 10:30am to 12 noon. This usually slows down our work. We have to wait till it comes up before we resume work.” Isah.

Ayedun however maintained that the centre has been able to get around the situation by switching to the alternative platform when such glitches occur.

This claim however contrasts sharply with the experience of a patient who got vaccinated at the Agbado Primary Health Centre, Mr. Kunle Olabiyi who told our correspondent that he got on the platform at the speed of light, saying the process was simple and seamless.

“I got registered to be vaccinated this morning and I ran down here to be vaccinated without any problem of a hitch. I can swear that it didn’t take me up to 10 minutes to get registered,” He said in a tone laden with satisfaction and pride.

In all the six centres visited, there has not been any single incidence of crowd violence according to those who spoke to our correspondent as it was very evident that the managements of the respective health institutions have made contingency arrangements for crowd control.

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