Politics

FG launches optimised SCALES strategy to address COVID-19 vaccination gaps

The Federal Government has launched an optimized strategy termed “SCALES 3.0” to accelerate integrated COVID-19 vaccination and address identified implementation gaps in ramping up coverage in Nigeria.

SCALES is an acronym for ‘service delivery, communication, accountability, logistics, electronic reporting and supportive supervision’ for the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination

The SCALES 3.0 strategy which is an optimized version of SCALES 2.0, is an initiative by National Primary Health Care Development Agency(NPHCDA) aimed at accelerating integrated COVID-19 vaccination and Primary Health Care (PHC) services across the country.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF) and the Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Barrister Boss Mustapha, in his Keynote address noted that the SCALES 3.0 strategy will address the identified implementation gaps in SCALES 2.0 and bring about more accountability for performance, strengthen electronic data reporting and promote robust demand generation at the community levels.

“Nigeria has continued to experience changes in the factors that influence demand and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. These changing situations are not uniform across the country. They vary from state to state, and therefore require continuous review of our strategies for promoting demand and ensuring vaccine access and accountability”.

Speaking further, Mustapha it is safe to state that there is a significant decline in deaths arising from COVID-19 as a result of the ongoing vaccination stressing that people should not lower their guards or give in to complacency as the virus is still very much around us and can mutate.

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“Earlier in February 2022, we launched optimized SCALES 2.0 strategy, which even though has proven to be effective in ramping up COVID-19 vaccination coverage, the proportion of fully vaccinated Nigerians is still low when compared to the set target”.

Similarly, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire in his remarks, Disclosed that only 3 states (Nasarawa, Jigawa and Kano) have vaccination coverage of over 50 percent thereby leaving 34 states performing sub-optimally in terms of COVID-19 vaccination coverage.

“Hence, the need for the team to refine the current SCALES 2.0 strategy to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination, identifying unique enablers per state and deploy state-specific strategies”.

According to Ehanire, “the SCALES 3.0 strategy will be anchored on an intensive 3 months campaign, performance-based incentives, optimized integrated package of services, decentralized and incentivized demand generation strategies, partners coordination and accountability, and state-specific context and strategies”.

“Based on these principles, the strategy is poised to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and gain the desired herd immunity as quickly as possible”.

“While we are glad that Nigeria is ranked among the high-performing countries in terms of COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Africa, we can’t but acknowledge the fact that we still have a lot of work to do as the statistics quoted above has shown”.

Earlier, the Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said, although the progress recorded with optimized SCALES 2.0 implementation is appreciable adding that strategic review showed that there has also been an increased low COVID-19 risk perception which needs to be overcome.

“Our disaggregated states performance analyses also revealed that there are important state-specific bottlenecks that must be addressed in their various contexts for us to see improved vaccine uptake”.

Shuaib maintained that it is for these reasons, among others, that the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency has come up with SCALES 3.0, which is officially flag off.

Shuaib explained that SCALES 3.0 is an evidence-based update that fixes the bugs in SCALES 2.0 and uses human-centred demand generation design to address low COVID-19 risk perception in the country.

“The strategy retains integration of COVID-19 vaccination with other PHC services, but uses an implementation approach that seeks to address bottlenecks on service delivery, communication, accountability, logistics, EMID and supportive supervision from bottom-up and state-specific contexts”.

“On the service delivery, SCALES 3.0 will operate on focused campaign mode with mobile and special teams taking vaccines to where people live and work. This will address the operational issues with the fixed posts, temporary fixed posts and mass vaccination sites that were observed in SCALES 2.0”.

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