The Federal Government of Nigeria on Monday announced the introduction of a new yellow card and plan for a general vaccination of Nigerians.
Minister of Health, Prof. Oyenbuchi Chukwu who disclosed this at the Pre 56th National Council on Health (NCH) meeting in Abuja, said the old card which has been plagued with the problem of authenticity will be phased out by September, 2013.
This is coming barely a year after Nigeria/South Africa face off over International Certificate of Vaccination & Prophylaxis known as Yellow Card.
The minister said the general vaccination of Nigerians which he noted will come up in May is to protect them against the relapse of Yellow fever.
The minister noted that the idea to introduce the new yellow card was muted last year at the 55th NCH meeting after South Africa officials refused some numbers of Nigerians entrance into their country on the excuse of incomplete entry documents, specifically the yellow cards.
The introduction of the new yellow card according to the minister will put an end to the issue of fake “yellow cards”.
He said, “I have the pleasure to present the new International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis and formerly launch the card.
“As you are aware, one of the key resolutions approved for implementation by the Council at the 55th NCH was for the Federal Ministry of Health to proceed with the introduction of the new International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis (yellow card).
“This I believe will put an end to the issue of fake “yellow cards” issued from multiple sources.”
He further added that “a transition period of six months was to be allowed to withdraw the old cards after introduction of new card.”
He noted that the new cards, unlike the old ones would have advanced security features.
Besides, the minister said the production of the new card will be centralized by the Federal ministry of Health while the distribution of the cards will be done by National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to tally with Yellow Fever vaccines distributed.
Another change in the health policy announced by the minister is the standard operational guidelines for medical check-ups.
This is to be revised to include dental records and other relevant medical data in view of the importance of dental profiling in aiding forensic and criminal investigations.
Also, the council recommended the creation of dental units in all hospitals in order to actualize the new policy.
The minister also noted that “all National Programmes must be seen to align their interventions with Nigeria’s National MDG Countdown Strategy and continue to work with the MDG secretariat towards making significant progress in achieving the Health MDGs, come 2015.”
On the plan vaccination of Nigerians in the country and around the country’s borders against yellow fever, the minister said, “in May, we are going to commence mass vaccination of Nigerians against Yellow fever in the country and at the borders.”
Some experts had last year raised alarm over likely outbreak of a major yellow fever in much higher severity than previously reported in Nigeria.
They called for urgent action to save over 101 million of Nigerians who were exposed to vulnerability in the face of another likely yellow fever epidemic.