AS the new Yellow Card goes into circulation from October 1,2013, the Federal Ministry of Health, FMOH, has mapped out strategies to begin issuance of the cards, just as series of public enlightenment strategies will help put an end to the perennial fake Yellow Card saga in the country.
Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, weekend in Lagos said the new Yellow Card, which is of international standard, will be difficult to fake as it has been improved with six unique security features that will be difficult to adulterate.
Chukwu, who urged the Nigerian public to take cognisance of advantages of the new card, said with just six months to change the old card, the FMOH had commenced enlightenment campaign beginning with a mass vaccination of Nigerians against yellow fever in May.
Noting that the old Yellow Card would no longer be valid by October 1, 2013 even as he claimed that his tenure as Minister of Health has turned around fortunes of Nigeria’s health sector for good.
“In another one to two weeks, the unified stamps for the new Yellow Card will be ready, after which the issuance of the cards will take off.”
“We have designated centres that will be distributing the cards now. It is no longer going to be distributed from any centre. It is now the sole responsibility of the ministry to do so. If people could travel as far-off as Abuja for visas, they could also do that for Yellow Cards. This measure is to prevent further faking of the cards.”
Explaining the special features of the new Yellow Card, the Director of Public Health, FMOH, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale noted that apart from the six features, there is also a vaccine number to identify the genuine ones.
“In the new dispensation, it is no longer business as usual. We have centralised collection of the cards. You can’t even print it. If you print it, the security features are very tight and all the Embassies will be informed.
“Now we have 22 Port Health Services Centres while we have 42 point of entries. And we are now formalising getting additional six so that every state has at least one port health centre. And at least, international airport will have one port health centre.”
Stating that each card will cost N1, 000, she explained that the money will be used to replenish funds for operating the cards and will equally contribute to the revolving fund to ensure the card’s sustainability.
For those who genuinely took the yellow fever vaccination as the prerequisite to collect the card, Okoeguale said the vaccine is effective for 10 years and that about 500,000 of the new cards are available to replace the old cards for those who are already planning to go for Hajj or pilgrimage, among others.
Although, there is no way touting of the new cards can be reduced to zero, Okoeguale said it will be very minimal.
Hence, she reasoned that touting in the form of taking the new cards for illegal sales will be difficult, but for people who may be desperate to get it and may be willing to go and pay extra, she advised. “We are saying, you do not have to pay extra to get it because already, it is available.”
Already, the FMOH has planned a stakeholder’s meeting with officials of various Embassies, the Nigerian Immigration Service and relevant agencies to educate the public about the new Yellow Card.