THE Federal Government, on Tuesday, said it would soon commence the production of local vaccines on various diseases crippling Nigerian toddlers as well as exporting them to other countries.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, who stated this while playing host to the Nigeria Immunisation Financing Task Force Team led by Dr. Ben Anyiene, promised that the proposed local vaccines would be available by 2017.
Apparently acceding to the request of Dr Anyiene that production of local vaccines would enhance Nigeria foreign earnings and save about $215 million if the Federal Government commenced the production in 2016, the minister assured that the government would put up the policy framework and business plan for the local production for the children this year.
He stressed the determination of the government to commence the local production on small pox vaccine, yellow fever and many others, saying local production of small pox vaccine began in Nigeria in 1947, followed by fellow fever before it was shutdown in 1991.
Dr Onu said the Federal Government later formalised its partnership with foreign countries in 2007, adding that they had never produced since then.
According to him, “Nigeria had been making headway in the production of local vaccines before, and I want to assure Nigerians that the Ministry of Science and Technology will still lead in its production. By 2017, local vaccines will be available to every Nigeria. We believe our country will still become greater when our citizens are healthy.
“Today, we are struggling to be self-sufficient in rice production, and very soon, we will be self-sufficient. There was a time we exported rice and I believe we can still do that. We produced and exported vaccines in the past. We need to go back to those things that helped us. We don’t want to continually remain a poor nation, so we should be able to give grant to other countries.
“Nigeria does not have any other option than to embark on a very serious job in production of vaccines locally,” he declared.
Earlier in his presentation, the leader of the team, Dr Anyiene, said 25 per cent of Nigerian children died annually because of lack of immunisation, hence, the decision of the team to help Nigeria achieve sustainable immunisation financing.