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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

FG to Phase Out Yellow Cards Next Month

By Paul Obi  

The federal government  Monday in Abuja said starting from next month, the old International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis still in use in Nigeria would be phased out, paving the way for a more sophisticated version that would prevent piracy.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who made this known while inaugurating  the new vaccination certificate popular called Yellow Card, said the introduction of the card was one of the resolutions for implementation by the National Council on Health at its meeting in Abuja last year.
“It was agreed at the meeting that the Federal Ministry of Health proceed with the introduction of the new card which should have an advanced security features that were lacking in the old ones.”
Chukwu explained that with this development, state governments and private companies had been barred from the printing of the card, adding that “the council also resolved that the card be produced centrally by the Federal Ministry of Health, while a transition period of six months was to be allowed to withdraw the old cards after the introduction of the new card.”
The minister observed that “actually, the new card has been available for some months now, and a lot of Nigerians have availed themselves the opportunity of having the new Yellow Card. We thought it was important for the minister to also do a formal flag-off as the part of the sensitisation and creating awareness.”
“As minister, when I go on the street and ask people, quite a number of Nigerians don’t seem to appreciate that we have a new Yellow Card. Yet, we have set a target of October, that in October, that is just next month, the old card will no longer be valid. We don’t want Nigerians to get embarrassed; that is why we are trying to ensure Nigerians are aware and they get the new Yellow Card,” he added.
Giving reasons why the citizens should pay for the card, Chukwu said: “We have always paid for the Yellow Card; it used to be N500. It is not the first time. Nigeria has always paid for the Yellow Card.
However, the new one follow the issue that arose sometimes last year about Nigerians travelling to South Africa, we looked into the issue.
We actually found out that part of the confusion is that years ago, the National Council on Health in their wisdom at that time felt as a way of making it easy for Nigerians to obtain it, they wanted to decentralise, they permitted state governments, even private sector to be able to print their Yellow Card and issue as well as the federal government."
According to him, the card would be available at Port Health Services in states of the federation.
“If you have the old card and your immunisation is still valid, they will simply revalidate and give you a new one. If it is due for you to have a new immunisation, they will also immunise you appropriately and issue you the new card,” he maintained.
The move to introduce the new Yellow Card may not be unconnected with last year’s diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa, where the latter accused Nigerian citizens on board a commercial flight of entering South Africa with fictitious vaccination card.

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