It’s a move aimed at bridging the gap between demand and supply of vaccines in Nigeria. May & Baker, one of Nigeria’s foremost pharmaceutical company, has concluded plans to begin production of routine vaccines such as Bacillus Chalmette Guerin, BCG, hepatitis and diphtheria, tetanus and pertusis, DPT; oral polio vaccine, OPV, measles and yellow fever, in Nigeria.
But this is an effort that started in 2005 when May & Baker signed a memorandum of understanding, MOU, with the Federal Ministry of Health to revitalise the moribund Federal Vaccine Production Laboratory, FVPL, Yaba, Lagos. By 2007, the company, in partnership with the federal government renewed a joint venture agreement, JVA, that led to the establishment of a company named Biovaccines Nigeria Limited, for the production of vaccines in Nigeria. Now, the pharmaceutical company has commenced construction of a new vaccine plant to be sited in Ota, Ogun State, with a view to starting production of yellow fever vaccines within 18 months.
Nnamdi Okafor, managing director and chief executive officer, CEO, May & Baker, said the company went into local production of vaccines, because it had always desired to show the way forward for the health care industry.
“May & Baker wants to make available to the country its over 60 years experience, expertise, knowledge and skills acquired in drug manufacturing and vaccine distribution.” On what the country stands to gain with the local production of vaccines, Okafor said, “It will guarantee availability of quality, safe and affordable vaccines in the country; facility will guarantee employment for hundreds of Nigerians, and by going into local production, Nigeria will be putting the health security of her citizens in the hands of Nigerians.”
In addition, the managing director said local production of vaccines, “will ensure Nigerian’s participation in an industry that is at the cutting edge of science by helping to transfer technology to Nigeria and build capacity for primary healthcare delivery; as well as provide laboratory support for the National Programme on Immunisation in the areas of laboratory testing and immunisation advocacy.”
He further explained that the move will also save Nigeria money in terms of foreign exchange and logistics involved in vaccine importation. It is reported that Nigeria spends over N6 billion annually on the importation of vaccines.
By STELLA SAWYERR