Microsoft Co-founder and Chairman, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Bill Gates, says Nigeria should not spend too much money on a COVID-19 vaccine and should focus more on revitalizing its weak and underfunded health sector, especially primary care centers.
Gates stated this while responding to questions from newsmen during an interview with select African journalists on Tuesday.
When asked if it was appropriate for Nigeria to spend over N400bn to vaccinate 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population at $8 per vaccine in the midst of other issues plaguing the health sector, as projected to the senate by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire in December, Gates said, “There is no doubt that the impact of putting money into the health system particularly the primary healthcare system will be very high in terms of saving children’s lives and you are absolutely right.
“Nigeria should not divert the very limited money that it has for health into trying to pay a high price for COVID vaccines.”
He argued that investing in the primary health system would improve coverage and build Nigeria’s response in tackling other diseases.
“If you look at the primary health centres in the North, in particular if you look at the vaccine coverage rates, there are literally millions of lives that can be saved if the primary health system operates at a level that some other countries at the same wealth of Nigeria if the system was this good.
“So, I am an advocate for the government to have more resources and prioritise health. Obviously, I am not a voter in Nigeria so Nigeria can decide that independently. My advice is (that) the primary health care system is what is super important.”
When asked if his foundation would be helping Nigeria in developing COVID-19 vaccines, Gates said such a move would involve a five-year plan.