Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has stated that, to overcome vaccine nationalism, the country would have to start producing her vaccines and this could only be achieved through strategic collaboration with relevant stakeholders in the vaccine manufacturing sector.
Ehanire gave the clarification at the inaugural meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee (IMSC) and the Technical Working Group (TWG) on local vaccines manufacturing held in Abuja on Monday, June 6, 2022.
He noted that the inauguration of the committee and TWG was in line with the Nigeria Vaccine Policy (NVP).
He explicated that the policy was developed by local and international experts in vaccine Research and Development, Policy and Administration under the leadership and guidance of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and in due deference to the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Health Czar said the driving force of the NVP was to encourage local production of vaccines and to ensure self-sufficiency in vaccines availability, which will further boost the already existing National Immunisation Policy.
In line with this, the IMSC made up of the Ministers, Ministers of State and Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment, Science and Technology are to: Approve recommendations on vaccine production from the TWG; Provide financial and technical support to accomplish an effective functioning of the TWG; Provide sustainable financial support for local vaccine manufacturing
While the TWG made up of key stakeholders in the vaccine production sector would: Assess the local vaccine manufacturing capabilities of potential vaccine manufacturing facilities in the country and advise the Steering Committee as needed;
Work with WHO to facilitate smooth knowledge transfer for local mRNA vaccine production; Advise the Steering Committee on the possible timeline for the take-off of the vaccine production;
Advise the Steering Committee on all engagements and collaboration in the area of local vaccine manufacturing; Determine the cost of the project and possible areas for resource mobilisation;
Review and monitor public concerns on local manufactured vaccines; Planning, coordinating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating vaccine manufacturing.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar said, the country had been manufacturing animal vaccines since 1924 and is renowned in the continent for it, therefore, it was ready to collaborate with the Ministry of health to assist the country resuscitate local vaccine manufacturing for humans.
Similarly, representative of the Minister of Science and Technology said local vaccine production could only be enhanced and sustained by Vaccine Development Technology (VDT). Therefore, the Ministry was ready to support the initiative in every way possible, providing the research institutes and expertise that are relevant for its success.