BY MARY KUYE
The House of Representatives has requested the Buhari’s administration to reopen the Yaba Vaccine Production centre for immediate production of local vaccines.
Recall that the Yaba Vaccine Production centre was closed down in 1991.
The House also asked the Minister and agencies under the Ministry and the Executive Director, May and Baker Nigeria PLC to interface with the relevant committees of the House on possible ways of getting the needed legislative support to fast track the production of vaccines in Nigeria.
While adopting a motion of the urgent Need to Speed Up Local Production of Vaccines in Nigeria sponsored by Rep. Chike John Okafor, the lawmakers posited that bringing back the lab will save the country several billions of naira spent on the importation of vaccines.
Speaking in the same vein, Rep Okafor said the Yaba Vaccine Production Laboratory in Lagos was active in vaccine production for about six decades, between 1940 and 1991
He said the lab was known for 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
According to him, the Laboratory was closed down by the Federal Government in 1991 in order to upgrade the facility for optimal production but regretted that several years later, the facility was still under lock and key till date without any hope of reopening.
While stressing the need to produce vaccine locally to address the ravaging COVID-19 Pandemic and other diseases, the lawmaker recalled that 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.
He said presently, African Countries like South Africa, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Senegal have functional laboratories for the production of vaccines for use and export.
He stresses 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 Corona Virus (COVID-19) and other terminal diseases.
He expressed concern that Nigeria spends over Four (4) Billion Naira annually on importation of vaccines, adding that if vaccines are locally produced the amount spent on importation will reduce the volume of monies spent on the importation, local delivery, insurance and handling charges.
According to him, if the Partnership Agreement between the Federal Government and May and Baker Nigeria Plc is implemented, it 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;
He expressed the belief that 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.
Rep Okafor wants the House to take cognizant of the fact that local vaccine production will not only save Nigeria Billions of naira from vaccine importation but will go a long way in guaranteeing the availability of vaccines during routine immunization as well as exports to other African Countries, thereby cutting down the cost of vaccines in Nigeria;