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Vaccine: FG Reviews Draft Policy On Local Manufacturing

The Federal Government has taken steps to expedite local vaccine manufacturing and halt its importation by reviewing and validating the draft national plan for vaccine research and development in the country.

The plan, which was developed in 2021, is the first of its kind in Africa and highlights the roles of relevant stakeholders in the vaccine landscape.

This was the fallout of a meeting organised by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) in Abuja, weekend.

Speaking at the review and validation meeting, the Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Tunji Alausa, disclosed that the efforts of the Federal Government over the years to commence local vaccines production was already yielding the expected results.

Represented by Dr. David Atuwo, the minister noted that the review and validation meeting was timely because it provided critical stakeholders and policymakers the opportunity to address critical healthcare issues, as well as enhance entry of the pharmaceutical sector into the larger African market.

The review and validation of the draft roadmap, the minister stressed, would fast-track the achievement of the vaccine policy objectives of the federal government.

“With this initiative, I am confident that the government prioritization as regards local vaccine production will begin to yield the desired result within the shortest possible time, and the reliance on importation of this important public health tool will be drastically reduced.

“The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare will continue to provide the necessary oversight and work with NIPRD, partners and stakeholders at the various levels to ensure that the desired results of sustainable vaccine R&D and local production in Nigeria are achieved,” he said.

Speaking on the government’s level of preparation to kick-start local vaccine manufacturing, the minister said: “Despite the various challenges militating against local production of vaccines, I want to state that appreciable progress has been achieved in these past few years.:

“Nigeria has recently attained Maturity Level Three (ML3) for regulatory oversight and this includes the area of vaccines. With this and other ongoing reforms in the health sector, vaccines produced as a result of this process will not only satisfy national needs, but will also be available for international procurement.

“Whilst the government is taking steps to provide the needed infrastructure requisite for the implementation of local vaccines’ production, it is commendable that NIPRD, in line with its mandate, continues to set the pace for responsive innovation in this area.

“This high-level meeting is intended to bring together relevant stakeholders in order to synthesize ideas and solutions for a robust and contextual base plan to achieve sustainable local manufacturing of vaccines in Nigeria.

“This approach will provide a strong foundation that is underpinned by empirical evidence. The adoption of this bottom-up strategy in developing this plan ensures that innovative ideas embedded in this framework are designed to stimulate local vaccines R&D and vaccines production in Nigeria.”

In his remarks, the Director General of NIPRD, Dr. Obi Adigwe, explained that the meeting was the first step to unlocking the health value chain plan which would not only save lives but also address critical socio-economic indices, such as job creation, capacity building, revenue generation and technology transfer.

Dr Adigwe, however, stressed that Africa no more cherished what he described as tokenistic interventions such as fill-finish products.

“Africa no longer has an interest in tokenistic interventions such as fill-finish products, but has become interested in building dependable, equitable, and veracious partnerships that will enable the Continent to undertake full R&D for the production of vaccines.”