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Ebonyi, Plateau health workers sabotage vaccination – Report

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THERE are indications that efforts by many states in Nigeria to put the pandemic under control are being sabotaged by health workers in charge of the vaccination who take bribes to cut corners.

  While reports from several states may be the same, health workers in Ebonyi and Plateau States may be the worst culprits.

  An undercover investigation by Media Advocacy West Africa Foundation (MAWA-Foundation) that started in 2021, covering Plateau, Ebonyi, Gombe, and Abuja uncovered how health workers abandon professional standards and ethics and adopted unprofessional attitudes driven by greed and corruption to put many lives at risk.

  In the act that was found to be common practice in the states investigated, health workers collected bribes and issued COVID-19 certification cards without administering the vaccine.

  In Plateau State, officials of the Foundation in efforts to find out how health workers in Plateau State were collecting bribes and issuing COVID-19 certification cards without administering the vaccine, visited Jos the Plateau State capital, and spent a number of days. During the stay, they visited some of the Primary Health Care Centres, pretending to be in need of the COVID-19 certification cards.  

  They approached health workers who demanded money to get the cards without administering the vaccine. They bargained with a health worker at Kuru II Primary Health Care Centre in Kushe ward, who asked for N25,000 for two vaccination cards. An amount that was paid in two tranches, into a First Bank

account belonging to Polycarp Auta, one of the health workers.

  In Ebonyi State, MAWA Foundation officials in efforts to

uncover the COVID-19 vaccination card racketeering taking place in Ebonyi State, visited Abakaliki, the state capital where they spent days investigating the practice. During their stay in Ebonyi, they visited Mile Four Hospital, Alex Ekweme Teaching Hospital, and Maternal and Child Health Hospital. Investigating how the health workers were issuing COVID-19 certification cards without administering the vaccine, they went undercover, pretending to be in need of the COVID-19 certification card.

On the first day at Abakiliki, they had focused group discussions with the locals, comprising members of civil society, the media, and community influencers, and were made to understood that it was difficult to get any of the health workers to admit such a practice exists.

  To penetrate the health workers and get them to issue a COVID-19 certification card without administering the vaccine, they made use of the locals who presented them as people who were genuinely in need of the COVID vaccine certification card. The health workers after a series of negotiations admitted to issuing the card at the cost of N3,000, an amount that was paid into a Fidelity Bank account belonging to Chukwu Stella N., one of the health workers.

  But all these are happening even when Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, a legislation that regulates health practitioners in Nigeria, mandates them to safeguard the public at all times, and ensure professional misconduct, incompetent or unethical practice are not allowed or condoned.

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