By Edward Adamidenyo, Abuja
The United States is ramping up its countrywide support to Nigeria by supporting the Imo state government to boost Covid-19 vaccination effort.
U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard in her opening remarks at the Flag-Off of the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign in Imo State hosted by Governor Hope Uzodinma said she shares the United States Global Action plan to help coordinate areas that the world has identified as the most significant barriers to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
She added that the U.S is committed to supporting Nigeria and other countries around the world to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic noting that the campaign will increase COVID-19 vaccine access and uptake amongst the people of Imo State.
Ambassador Leonard noted that the U.S. has recommitted increasing access to vaccines, boosting vaccine confidence by tackling misinformation, improving last-mile vaccine delivery, and supporting health workers to vaccinate people.
“Part of this commitment is reflected in the U.S. donation of over 21.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, accounting for over 35 percent of the total donations to Nigeria.”
The United States Government’s commitment is reflected in the technical and logistics support to ensure vaccines get to all citizens who need them the most. U.S. assistance also focuses on getting vaccines into arms so that no vaccines expire unnecessarily when millions of people need them. “No one is safe from the pandemic until everyone is safe, and the only way to do that is through safe and effective vaccines,” she added.
Ambassador Leonard used the opportunity to recognize the efforts of the U.S. -CDC, USAID, and the U.S. Department of Defense Walter Reed Army Program for their support to Nigeria’s vaccine rollout. In addition, she thanked U.S. CDC’s implementing partner, the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN), for their pivotal role in ramping up vaccine access and uptake in Imo and other states.
She commended Governor Uzodinma for his efforts to make the vaccines available. She encouraged all those eligible to come out and get vaccinated to secure the health and wellbeing of the Imo people. She called on community leaders and other gatekeepers to join hands with the government to safeguard the people’s health in the State. “We need your support to champion the vaccination of the people of Imo and protect them from COVID-19. The U.S. Mission in Nigeria stands with you.”
Imo State is currently one of the states in Nigeria with the lowest vaccine uptake. Recent data ranks Imo as 35 out of 36 states (and the FCT) with only 2.3 percent coverage for COVID 19 vaccinations. The flag-off mass vaccination campaign event serves to accelerate and expand COVID-19 vaccination access and uptake. U.S. – CDC, through PEPFAR American Rescue Plan Act funding and its implementing partner, Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, are at the forefront of providing that support to all the citizens of Imo State. Through PEPFAR, US CDC supports over 83% of the estimated people living with HIV in Imo state with comprehensive treatment services.