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No COVID-19 vaccines for under-18 – PTF

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The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has said that Nigerians under the age of 18 years will not receive the COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, said that the Federal Government planned to cover 70 per cent of Nigerians within two years.

He warned that private organisations were not permitted to procure, distribute and administer the coronavirus vaccines.

To ensure a smooth management of the four million vaccines arriving on Tuesday, Mamora said the PTF had approved the TEACH strategy and the electronic management immunisation system.

He said that the strategy called TEACH approach harnesses all the benefits of traditional, electronic, assisted and concomitant house-to-house registration to optimise the use of innovative technology.

Mamora said that the TEACH approach entails traditional method of vaccinating target populations using desk review of available data sources, identifying the vaccination sites and roll out.

He described the strategy as innovative to ensure a smooth rollout so that no one was left behind.

The Minister of State for Health warned against private importation of vaccines and emphasised that only the National Primary Health Care Development Agency would import and manage vaccines until further notice.

Meanwhile, A Psychiatrist, Prof. Badru Fatai, has urged the Federal Government to continuously ensure a mental stable society as its major priority through the provision of basic necessities of life.

Fatai, also Professor of Nursing, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.

He said that the devastating effects of insurgent attacks, economic hardships and other crises across the country, had left many people in need of psychiatric evaluation.

He regrets that victims of those crises were often affected psychologically while little or no attention was given to providing them with needed healthcare.

“Mental health is as important as physical health.

“But you find out that government agencies and international organisations focus more on catering for the physical needs of the people rather than mental needs.

“Nigeria has mental health policy, but this policy is not being implemented.

“For too long, mental disorders have been largely overlooked despite the fact that they are found in all countries,’’ the Psychiatrist said.

According to him, mental disorders are found in women and men at all stages of life and among the rich, the poor and in both rural and urban settings.

“If people with mental disorders fail to receive the treatment, vaccines and care they require during this Covid- 19 pandemic.

“They risk becoming marginalised by society and many descend into poverty and homelessness.’’

He said that lack of political support, inadequate management, over-burdened health services and resistance from policymakers and health workers had hampered the development of a coherent mental health system in Nigeria.

Stable mental health, he said, is key to the overall good health of the citizens for optimal performance and contribution to the growth and development of the country.

He, therefore, advised the government to increase its investments and funding on mental health service delivery to attain stable mental health among Nigerians.

Fatai decried the poor state of the few existing psychiatric hospitals in the country, saying that some states in the country do not have a functional psychiatric hospital.

He urged the government, at all levels, to intensify efforts toward establishing more psychiatric hospitals across the country.

“The establishment of more psychiatric hospitals has become necessary due to the increasing cases of mental illness, adding that mental health facilities available in the country were inadequate to cater for the rising cases,’’ NAN quotes Fatai as saying.

He attributed the rising cases of mental illness to drug abuse, stress, economic downturn, unemployment, inadequate finances, depression and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that mental health services were barely accessible outside the state capitals, stressing the urgent need to establish such facilities at the grassroots.

The Psychiatrist said that most mental health cases happen in rural communities where there are no mental healthcare facilities/psychiatric hospitals.

“That is why people will resort to taking the victims to prayer houses where the situation will be allowed to get complicated.

“Mental health needs to be given the seriousness it deserved by the government, individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“Let the government subsidise the treatment of mental illness and establish more psychiatric hospital to enable more mental patients to access treatment,’’ he said.

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