The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Newton Igwele has advised Bayelsans to take the COVID-19 vaccine as it is safe and is a sure way of protecting people against new strains of the virus.
He made the call during the 2021 Annual General Meeting of the National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP) in Yenagoa.
He said it was necessary that the theme of the event focused on vaccine acceptability which has been a major challenge in the state and the government is making efforts to fix.
Dr. Igwele stated that some people may have experienced slight side effects just like he did but that was not a cause for alarm as over the years such symptoms have accompanied different kinds of vaccines.
He wished the association fruitful deliberations and assured that the Prosperity Administration of Senator Douye Diri is committed to improving their working conditions.
In her goodwill message, the State Head of Service, Mrs. Biobelemoye Charles Onyema (MNI) said she has always identified with the association in their fight against COVID-19 and urged them to keep up the good work.
Mrs. Onyema who was represented by Mrs. Helen Angalabiri advised them to uphold ethical values and professionalism in the discharge of their duties.
The Chairman of the occasion, and Permanent Secretary, Bayelsa State Agency for the Control of AIDS (BYSACA) Dr. Azebi Oluwatoyin, praised the doctors for being heroes of the medical profession and their versatility in the care of Bayelsans living in rural areas.
She thanked the Governor for his support, while stating that Bayelsa is one of the leading states when it comes to doctors’ welfare and thanked the Commissioner for Health for his tireless efforts in ensuring that the doctors have better working conditions.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the state chapter of the NAGGMDP, Dr. Umuwe Stephen, said the doctors have been dedicated to manning state owned health facilities even in the most remote areas.
He solicited that welfare and accommodation for doctors be taken more seriously by the state government, as well as the payment of promotion arrears and employment of a larger workforce.
While Delivering the theme lecture on “Facts, Myths, Realities of COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptability in Bayelsa State,” Dr. Neni Awhorabi-Oki said what is ongoing in the state is hesitancy and not acceptability.
She revealed that out of the 44,000 doses sent to Bayelsa, only 15, 281 doses have been accepted which is very low, saying the government has been embarking on public awareness campaigns to educate the public and allay their fears.
She further called on doctors to be supportive of the vaccination and not join those who speak against it on the media, saying the new strains of COVID-19 ravaging India has been found in Nigeria, therefore all hands need to be in deck to fight the surge.
Highpoint of the event was the presentation of an Award of Excellence to the Commissioner for Health for his selflessness, courage, character and immense contribution to the Association.
Other awardees included the Chairman House Committee on Health, Hon. Oyinke Godbless, The Head of Service, Mrs. Biobelemoye Onyema, the Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Bayelsa State, Dr. Torunana Ngowari among others.