FG launches local vaccine policy

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The Federal Government on Thursday launched the maiden edition of the Nigeria vaccine policy.

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The minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire, while performing the groundbreaking ceremony of the local vaccine production, stated that the event which marks the very first edition of the Nigeria Vaccine policy and the 3rd edition of the National Drug Policy is targeted at ensuring that Nigeria does not lack availability of drugs and also with the effort to empowering local industries.

He said that vaccines are biological products that could be used to safely induce an immune response.

According to him, it is the most cost-effective intervention in public health and has created a significant impact on the reduction of diseases globally.

The minister said that Nigeria was one of the developing countries that faced a “double burden of diseases” with a high prevalence of communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases.

He said based on forecasts and estimates from the latest statistics derived from the United Nations, Nigeria’s population was expected to have reached 206 million by 2020 and 264 million by 2030.

He said that the forecast estimated that the county’s population would be surpassing the estimated 300 million mark for 2036.

According to him, an increase in population will heighten the need for more vaccines.

It will interest you to know that the government and GAVI re-negotiated the co-financing arrangement for vaccines with a view to ensuring a smooth transition to full country ownership.

“This led to the signing of the Nigeria Strategy for Immunisation and PHC System Strengthening the Nigeria Strategy for Routine Immunisation and Primary Health Care Systems Strengthening (NSIPSS) between the government and GAVI.

“NSIPSS serves as the basis for the extension of GAVI support to 2028.

“An Accountability Framework (AF) was developed to guide the implementation of the NSIPSS.

“The most salient aspect of the AF is that the government must provide incremental funds from budgetary sources on a yearly basis culminating in 100 per cent funding for vaccine procurement by 2028.

Ehanire said that the government had taken some pragmatic steps toward boosting the local capacity for the manufacture of essential medicines.

According to him, this is to ensure that the local pharmaceutical industry becomes a major actor in providing good quality essential medicines for our health care programme.

He said that the first edition was in 1990 while the 2nd edition was in 2005 as many of the expectations of that edition were unrealised due to a lack of political will by past governments.

Ehanire said that another reason for not achieving the objective was the absence of a well-structured monitoring system.

He, however, said that the revised edition had taken care of those identified lapses.

The launching of this edition is against the backdrop of the overall Health Sector Reform (HSR) Programme of the ministry.

“No matter how vibrant a health policy, without the availability of good quality and affordable medicines, that policy will be sterile,’’ Ehanire said.

He said that the government had paid special attention to the pharmaceutical subsector and had taken many pragmatic steps toward boosting the local capacity for the manufacture of essential medicines.

“It is my earnest hope that the launching of the drug policy will further increase the vibrancy of the pharmaceutical sector for the overall improvement of people’s health,’’ he said.

He said that the goal of the drug policy was to make available at all times to the Nigerian populace adequate supplies of drugs that are effective, affordable, safe, and of good quality.

He said the policy would ensure the rational use of such drugs and to stimulate increased local production of essential drugs.

The permanent secretary of the ministry, Alhaji Mahmuda Mamman, said that vaccines were recognised globally for their importance in the reduction of vaccines preventable diseases to improve the quality of life of the entire population.

He said that the importance of vaccines had been further demonstrated with the outbreak of the COVID -19 pandemic with countries scrambling to produce vaccines to combat the effect of the pandemic amongst their citizens.

It is hoped that the development of this policy will complement the already existing immunisation policy and provide the platform for the amelioration of vaccine-preventable diseases in Nigeria.

“One tool used to maintain low rates of vaccine-preventable disease is vaccination law,’’ he said.

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