Covid-19 Certification is not a medical necessity as the tension between individual thought, liberty and dignity must be balanced with public health necessity.
Compulsory vaccination cannot be imposed but Covid-19 protective measures particularly social distance and hand hygiene. The right to dignity cannot be limited by state vaccination.
It is important that national and state health systems be oriented towards the promotion and support of healthy lifestyles by individuals, families and communities in order to effectively respond to complex social and cultural issues associated with Covid-19 within the context of right to family, life and dignity as guaranteed in the Constitution.
When the Edo State Government ordered compulsory vaccination, I flagged off an online petition for four days and we secured the signature of 951 persons condemning the compulsory vaccination exercise. A suit was filed thereafter (Aigbokhan President & 950 Ors v. Edo State Government &Anor Suit No: B/190m/2021).
As at today, the vaccine is not readily available and is not protective, managerial nor stop transmission especially as it is on test without concrete proof of efficacy. More worrisome is that there is no compensation, indemnity or liability on the part of the vaccine manufacturer where there arises side effect or consequential effect of death.
As part of the state security measure is ensuring high quality screening at points of entry and other high risk settings. This must be complimented by rigorous hand hygiene, nose masking and social distancing in all congregate settings such as schools, prisons, stadiums, transportation hubs, offices, shopping malls and large religious congregation. This is how far the state can go in securing lives and property.
Government must reawaken hygiene and environmental sanitation across communities. The preservation of public health starts with respect for personal dignity and corporate orderliness. A directive that does not promote access to safe, effective, affordable quality assured medicines and technology in the context of the pandemic and human right design is tyrannical.
The state has an unproven power for supply and stock piling of medical commodities as most of her health facilities especially in the rural areas have failed and uncared for. There are prominent diseases killing Nigerians namely malaria, cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. The common risk factor is tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity which needs a lot of sensitization.
The welfare tool at this time is health education. The promotion of support for healthy lifestyle by individuals, families and communities is the heart of state service on health. Government must allow citizens to vaccinate freely and not under compulsion. A constitutional right need not be compromised for effective public health intervention.
We must come together to create culturally appropriate and evidence based initiatives to address Covid-19 in way that protect and promote human rights.
President Aigbokhan is the Co-Founder of FOI Counsel