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FG should tap COVID-19 as opportunity to make changes in Nigeria’s health sector -LCCI

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THE Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has charged the Federal Government to seize the opportunity of the COVID-19 pandemic to make sustainable changes and improvements in the nation’s healthcare sector.

The LCCI President Michael Olawale-Cole gave the admonition in a statement to The ICIR on Thursday.

Olawale-Cole added that the government must also take urgent steps to accelerate progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.

While lamenting the economic impact the travel ban imposed on Nigeria by the United Kingdom and some other countries would have on businesses, the LCCI raised concerns about the little success the country had recorded in its vaccination exercise.

It recommended that the government develop and deploy strategies to get more citizens vaccinated to further strengthen  response to the pandemic.

These strategies, LCCI said, needed to address both the supply- and demand-side challenges to vaccination.

On the supply side, LCCI said there was a need to have constructive engagement directly with vaccine manufacturers and indirectly through the COVAX facility.

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It called for the continuous education of citizens on the safety of vaccines and the importance of being vaccinated to address the demand side.

The chamber charged the Nigerian Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) to conduct quick studies on the new variant and advise the government on the next containment steps.

To prevent damage to the country’s international reputation, the government must clamp down on any existing vaccine card racketeers issuing fake vaccination cards to outbound travellers from Nigeria, the LCCI further noted.

In addition, the LCCI called on the Federal Government to create an intelligence monitoring mechanism to check the utilisation of funds allocated to COVID-19 interventions.

It also canvassed an enabling environment for the private sector to invest heavily in the manufacture of vaccines that could meet Nigeria’s domestic demand and for export.

To secure the economic gains and recoveries that the country has witnessed in the last three quarters of this year, the organisation warned that the government must do everything to avoid another lockdown.

It added that Nigeria needed a long-term containment strategy and public health action plan to manage epidemics and pandemics without locking down the economy.

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It also urged Nigerians to increase compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols, present themselves for vaccination and obey all international travel protocols to avoid lockdowns.

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