The House of Representatives on Tuesday underscored the need for Federal Government to expedite action towards promotion of local vaccine production with the view to save Nigeria billions of naira capital flight on the importation of vaccine into the country.
Tribune Online reports that the resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion titled: “Urgent need to speed up local production of vaccines in Nigeria,” sponsored by Hon. Chike John Okafor.
In his lead debate, Hon. Okafor observed that the Yaba Laboratory was active in vaccine production for about six decades, between 1940 and 1991, producing large quantities of vaccines against smallpox, rabies and yellow fever for not only Nigeria, but also for neighbouring countries like Cameroon, and other
“The House also notes that the Yaba Vaccine Production Laboratory, was closed down by the Federal Government in 1991 in order to upgrade the facility for optimal production but the facility has remained under lock and key till date.
“The House is aware of the need to produce vaccine locally to address the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and other diseases.
“The House is also aware that in 2017, the Federal Government signed a partnership agreement with May and Baker Nigeria Plc to float a company named Biovaccine Limited for the commencement of local vaccine production in Nigeria, however, the company is yet to commence the production of those lifesaving vaccines.
“The House is further aware that presently African countries like South Africa, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Senegal have functional laboratories for production and export of vaccines for use and export.
“The House is cognizant of the need for Nigeria to speed up the commencement of local Vaccine production for domestic use and export especially now that the world is faced with the ravaging coronavirus (COVID-19) and other terminal diseases.
“The House is worried that Nigeria spends over N4 billion annually on importation of vaccines, an amount which, if vaccines are locally produced will reduce the volume of monies spent on the importation, local delivery, insurance and handling charges.
“The House is again aware that the partnership agreement between the Federal Government and May and Baker Nigeria Plc if implemented, will improve the technical capacities and capabilities of Nigerian scientists and engineers and the value chain in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector and also expose them to the technological advancements involved in vaccine production.”
He explained that “a successful production of local vaccines will help the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health to effectively tackle outbreaks such as the recent outbreak of gastroenteritis in Lagos which claimed lives and the current ravaging COVID-19.
“The House is again cognizant that local vaccine production will not only save Nigeria billions of naira from vaccine importation but will go a long way in guaranteeing the availability of vaccines during routine immunisation as well as exports to other African countries, thereby cutting down the cost of vaccines in Nigeria,” he urged.
In order to ensure compliance, the House mandated the Committees on Healthcare Services, Health Institutions and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria to invite the Minister, Federal Ministry of Health; the Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency; Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Executive Director, May and Baker Nigeria Plc to brief the Committees and deliberate on possible ways of getting the needed legislative support to fast track the production of vaccines in Nigeria and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.