Nigeria will begin the production of many vaccines needed in the country with the approval of a joint-venture agreement between the Federal Ministry of Health and M&B this year.
The Federal Executive Council gave the approval at Wednesday’s meeting presided over by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who briefed State House Correspondents on the outcome of the meeting as it concerns the health ministry, said council received a memo which proposed the establishment of a company to begin the production of the vaccines.
“What Council did today was to put life into this joint-venture agreement that proposes to establish a company called Bio-vaccines LTD, which would be jointly owned by the federal government of Nigeria as well as May and Baker PLC,” Professor Adewole said.
He said the board of the company would comprise seven people, out of which four would come from May and Baker PLC, while three would come from the federal government.
The equity participation in the proposed company, according to the Health Minister, would be 51% for May and Baker PLC, while Nigeria’s would be 49%.
“The company, between 2017 and 2021, would produce many of the basic vaccines that we need”, he said, adding that “from 2021 and beyond, other vaccines that are necessary will also be put on board for Nigerians.”
Professor Adewole said the Ministry of Health considers vaccines as “a security issue” not only health, adding that there was need to guarantee the “security of all Nigerians, particularly our children.”
According to the Health Minister, between 1940 and 1991, Nigeria was not only producing such vaccines as smallpox, yellow fever and anti-rabbis vaccines, but also exporting the vaccines to Cameroun, Central African Republic and a few other countries.
He said the vaccine production laboratory stopped in 1991 for upgrade, which did not happen, requiring government to do something to resuscitate it.
Meningitis nears end
Professor Adewole also said that he briefed the council on the meningitis outbreak, stating that “we are almost at the end of the outbreak.”
“What we are now doing is to prepare and ensure that this does not repeat itself next year,” he added.
On the body that was flown into Nigeria from the Democratic Republic of Congo where an outbreak of the Ebola disease was reported recently, Adewole said the body tested negative to ebola, dispelling fears over the cause of the person’s death.
“We know the cause of death, which for confidential reasons we do not have to disclose it, but it was nothing really to worry about,” adding that the ministry decontaminated the entire premises immediately and that the body was taken away.
He said Nigeria has notified the International Civil Aviation Authority about the action of Kenyan Airline in flying the body into Nigeria without following the standard procedure of flying a body into another country.