The House of Representatives has stressed the need for speedy production of local vaccines for the treatment of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The House also mandated its standing Committees on Healthcare Services, Health Institutions and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria to invite the Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Health, the Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the 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 (4) weeks for further legislative action
The resolutioms followed the adoption of a motion on notice, moved by Rep. John Chike Okafor (APC, Imo), wherein he noted that “the Yaba Vaccine Production Laboratory Lagos 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 African countries”.
“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.
“We are aware of the need to produce vaccine locally to address the ravaging covid-19 pandemic and other diseases.
“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 live saving vaccines”, Rep. Okafor said.
He informed the House 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”.
“Cognizant of the need for Nigeria to speed up the commencement of local Vaccine production for domestic use and export especially now the World is faced with the ravaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other terminal diseases.
“Worried that Nigeria spends over Four (4) Billion Naira annually on importation of vaccines, an amount which, if vaccines are locally produced will reduce the volume of monies spent on importation, local delivery, insurance and handling charges.
“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.
“Also Cognizant 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;
“Local vaccine production will not only save Nigeria Billions of naira from vaccine importation but will go a long way in guaranteeing availability of vaccines during routine immunization as well as exports to other African Countries, thereby cutting down the cost of vaccines in Nigeria,“ the motion urged.