The Nigerian government is set to commence local production of vaccines, as a deliberate effort to drastically reduce the rate of infant mortality.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, gave the indication on Wednesday while receiving a delegation from the National Immunisation Financing Task Force Team at his office in Abuja.
He said the ministry was determined to lead the way for the local production of vaccines, as there could not be any justification for Nigeria’s inability to do such.
“We used to produce and export vaccines in the past (but) today, we are struggling to be self-sufficient.
“We need to go back to those things that helped us in the past. We don’t want to continually remain a poor nation and rather being recipient of grants, we should be able to give grants to other countries.
“The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology will lead the way in making sure that vaccines are produced in the country to satisfy local needs and eventually for export to other African countries,” Onu said.
The minister commended the delegation for working in the common interest of Nigeria.
Gaps Vaccines’ Chain
In an earlier remark on Tuesday, Dr. Benson Anyene, who is the Chairman of the team, said that the main goal of the task force was to help Nigeria achieve Sustainable Immunisation Financing (SFI).
He explained further the SFI could be achieved by putting in place concrete effort to address gaps in the vaccines’ chain.
Dr. Anyene observed that if immediate actions were not taken, Nigeria might find itself in a position where it would no longer immunise children due to non-availability of vaccines.
He added that the task force would hold further talks with the Federal Government to ensure that there would be an increase in the budget on immunisation, establish an immunisation fund and get the states to contribute to immunisation procurement.
The immunisation official stated that 25% of Nigerian children die annually due to lack of immunisation, purporting that Nigeria was yet to produce any vaccine since 1991.
He stressed the need for policy documents and bankable business plan to shape the sector and solicited for the support of the ministry towards the realisation of the project.