Buhari asks Health Minister to submit progress report on local vaccines production

HEALTHDIGEST– President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, to submit a progress report on indigenous production of vaccines in the country by the end of May 2022.

The president gave the order on Wednesday in Abuja, while receiving the leadership of the Nigeria Integrated Biopharmaceuticals Industries Consortium, led by the Chief Executive Officer of Fredlab, Mr. Vilarugel Cuyas.

Buhari commended the efforts of NIBI consortium made up of European biotechnology companies, Merck, Unizima, Rommelag and Fredlab, who are collaborating with the Nigerian start-up PIA BioPharma to establish a world-class Bio-Pharma Industrial Complex for the manufacture of vaccines and essential therapeutics in Nigeria.

He noted that his administration considers food and medicine sufficiency as national security issues.

Buhari mandated the health minister and his team to work closely with the consortium and give them the support required for the actualisation of the NIBI project within the next few months.

‘‘While the Ministry of Health continues to drive collaboration with investors for vaccines, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, in a move towards self-sufficiency, I welcome the NIBI consortium’s desire to partner with the Federal Government in support of our agenda and look forward to the implementation of the NIBI project as it takes shape,’’ the president said.

Recounting the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria’s economy and health systems and how some nations with comparative advantages in being centres of bio-pharmaceutical productions adopted a “me-first” attitude towards securing their citizens, Buhari said, ‘‘I want Nigeria to make a bold statement in this field, not just for reasons mentioned earlier, but because of its knock-on effects on our economy at large.’’

According to the president, Nigeria has learnt key lessons from the pandemic, including that countries must look inward for sustenance in food and medical supplies.