Nigeria unveils new-look yellow card for travellers

Posted: March 1, 2013 in travel & tourism

nigeriaThree months after announcing that the Ministry of Health will commence the sole printing of the new international certificate of vaccination and prophylaxis, for Nigerian international travellers, the minister, in December, last year, Professor Christian O. Chukwu has officially unveiled the now encoded yellow card.

Chukwu who launched the travel document during the pre 56th National Council on Health (NCH), Monday, also announced that henceforth the Ministry of Health would be the sole manufacturer of the cards while the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) would distribute the cards after it has vaccinated the bearer.

It would be recalled that during the monthly review meeting of traditional rulers in Kaduna State involved in polio eradication campaign, last December, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Ray Nihar, hinted that Nigerians travelling abroad would henceforth be compelled to take the oral polio vaccine by May 2013 against the backdrop of the rising cases of the deadly disease.

Nihar had also informed that the WHO would issue a standing recommendation to all nations under the International Health Regulations, adding further that children and adult travelling out of Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan must be certified as having been vaccinated against polio “to reduce the substantial risk of the virus spreading to polio-free countries”.

On his part, the health minister who had also announced when receiving the newly appointed WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr Rui Gamavaz, at his office in Abuja, in December, that his ministry will commence the sole production of yellow cards for Nigerian travellers said the move followed the embarrassing mass deportation over 100 Nigerians by the South African Immigration department in March, last year, on suspicion of possessing fictitious yellow cards.

Unveiling therefore the now encoded yellow cards in Abuja, at the NCH in Abuja, Chukwu explained that the previous decentralisation of production of the yellow card to curb scarcity had inadvertently led to the multiplicity of cards and subsequent abuse of the cards by persons and agencies of government.

In March, last year, the issue of questionable yellow cards in circulation led to the holding of 125 Nigerian travellers at the O R Thambo International Airport, Johannesburg, and their subsequent deportation, which in turn led to the Federal Government, in a retaliatory measure, deporting an undisclosed number of South African residents in Nigeria over the same period.

Chukwu also added that Nigeria had established collaboration with the Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunisation (GAVI) to ensure effective control of any unforeseen eventuality that might arise as a result of outbreak from neighbouring countries.

“On the yellow fever aspect, the issue we have with South Africa diplomatically, it has been resolved but for the health aspect. What we are doing now, we are printing new yellow cards, which once they are printed, these ones have better security features and they will gradually replace the old yellow card.  We are walking with GAVI now to some extent they have accepted our proposal for a campaign for yellow fever. So, if able by next year with the assistance of GAVI we will source yellow fever vaccines we will begin a special campaign,” Chukwu had said in December.

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