the Center for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a non-governmental organization committed to educating, supporting and empowering people with disabilities in Nigeria, has accused the Lagos state government of failing to include provisions for people with disabilities (PWDs) in its coronavirus vaccination program.
The group said their research found that “to date, no person with disabilities in Lagos state has had access to a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The report entitled; “Assessment of access to COVID-19 vaccines among persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the state of Lagos,” was presented to journalists in Lagos on Thursday.
According to the report, none of the 100 PWD clusters in the state were involved or involved in any of the state government’s COVID-19 vaccine programs or activities.
During the presentation, the group’s executive director David Anyaele said the report proves institutional discrimination against people with disabilities in accessing COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria’s commercial hub and epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to him, their results showed that the socio-economic benefits of using the vaccination card for work-related sports and activities increased the personal interest of some people with disabilities in having access to the vaccine, “so they do everything to get it”.
Mr Anyaele said health policymakers had failed to make specific provisions for people with disabilities.
“Most of the COVID-19 vaccine centers in Lagos do not have specific guidelines on the issues facing people with disabilities, which are of critical concern.
“For example, the people with disabilities surveyed reported that there were no sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired clusters. People with disabilities with hidden disabilities (hearing impaired and albinos) in a queue have not been given priority and many vaccination centers are inaccessible to people with disabilities in wheelchairs or crutches, ”he added.
He said one of the reasons for the research is to identify challenges facing social policy and health care actors to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for people with disabilities.
Mr Anyaele noted that the main challenge for policy makers, as noted in the study, is the lack of synergies between the Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs (LASODA) and other relevant health care actors responsible for the vaccination program, especially the Lagos State Primary Health Care Board.
“The majority of the health policymakers surveyed identified a lack of knowledge of specific provisions of the Disability Act, the rights of people with disabilities and critical issues as a major challenge,” added Anyaele.
Meanwhile, a director of the state’s Ministry of Information, Adesegun Ogundeji, said at the event that the state government always gives priority to inclusion in its programs and activities.
Mr Ogundeji, who represented State Commissioner for Information and Strategy Gbenga Omotosho, said that COVID-19 vaccination centers are either in open spaces that are accessible to everyone or in health facilities where appropriate precautions are taken prior to the vaccination campaign for people with disabilities.
He added that the creation of LASODA and the passage of the state’s special law of 2011 was enough evidence that the state is committed to the welfare of people with disabilities.
However, he noted that any failures found during the investigation would also be taken into account in the second phase of the vaccination campaign. He urged everyone to lend a helping hand to the state’s desire to vaccinate many residents.
Meanwhile, the study recommended that the state Primary Health Care Board (PHCB) work with LASODA to build the capacity of managers, administrators and field workers involved in COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in various local government areas (LGAs) and municipal council development departments (LCDAs) are involved in how competently and confidently one can react to the needs of all PWD clusters.
He said the group will move to other states and the federal capital territory (FCT) to conduct similar research for improved decisions about vaccination against the pandemic and protecting people with disabilities.
COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria
Nigeria resumed its vaccination campaign against the pandemic on Monday after the second phase of around 4 million doses Modern vaccines by the government of the United States of America.
The country also received an additional 177,600 doses of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) African Union (AU) COVID-19 vaccines.
The country also unveiled coronavirus vaccines on Tuesday, which were being delivered through the COVAX facility, an initiative aimed at ensuring an equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
During the announcement of the second phase of vaccination on Monday, the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said that the arrival of these vaccines prompted the second phase of vaccination.
“The arrival of the 4,00,080 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine donated by the United States government and the 177,600 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines out of the 29,850,000 doses that the federal government received through the Africa-Import Export Bank and the African Union, is very encouraging and motivating for us on the President’s Steering Committee, ”he said.
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