Anambra State has been selected as one of the 15 states in Nigeria to benefit from Canada’s Global Initiative for Vaccine Equity (CanGIVE) Grant to Nigeria. The CanGIVE grant aims to support country-led efforts in accelerating COVID-19 vaccine delivery and distribution, with a focus on high-priority risk groups and increasing vaccine confidence and demand. Alongside Anambra, the grant will be implemented in 14 other states, including Benue, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Kebbi, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Lagos, Ogun, and Ondo.
The grant’s primary objectives involve community engagement, particularly addressing service delivery inequities and gender disparities in sub-national geographical locations. Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the Head of Mission and Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Nigeria, shared during the grant launch in Abuja that WHO Nigeria’s country office will provide technical support to strengthen health systems, focusing on data management and surveillance related to the Transforming African Surveillance Systems (TASS) Flagship initiative. The grant will also help increase COVID-19 vaccine demand generation and uptake, integrating these efforts with routine immunization and other primary healthcare services.
Dr. Mulombo acknowledged Nigeria’s progress in combating COVID-19, but pointed out that 14 states are still lagging behind with less than 50 percent vaccination coverage of their target populations. Vulnerable groups, such as people aged 50 and above, individuals with co-morbidities, health workers, those living in humanitarian and security-compromised communities, and pregnant women, remain insufficiently covered.
Despite the WHO Director General’s declaration that COVID-19 is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), Dr. Mulombo cautioned that the pandemic continues to pose a global and national health threat, with cases still being reported in several countries. He emphasized the importance of completing the primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations and adhering to the booster dose schedule for those who have already completed their primary vaccination.
Assuring the Federal Ministry of Health of WHO’s ongoing collaboration with partners, Dr. Mulombo pledged continued support to the government’s efforts in protecting vulnerable populations and strengthening health systems. The WHO aims to implement a one-health approach to preparedness and response while integrating COVID-19 surveillance and response activities into routine health programs.
With the commitment of partners and the Federal Government of Nigeria, WHO will dedicate sustained attention and resources to preparedness and resilience to counter future threats, ensuring a collective effort to safeguard public health in the face of emerging challenges.