Nigerian govt, May&Baker partner on local vaccines production

Vaccines used to illustrate the story [Photo: celiac.org]

The federal government and May&Baker Nigeria Plc have formally kicked off local vaccines production in the country following the inauguration of the Board of Directors of Biovaccines Nigeria Limited in Abuja, the pharmaceutical company has said in a statement.
 
Biovaccines Nigeria Limited is a joint venture between the Federal Government and May&Baker Nigeria Plc.
 
The partnership comprises a seven-member Board with three members from the government, while the other four members are May&Baker designates who will run the day to day management of the business, according to the statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES.
 
In his inaugural speech, the minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, described the partnership as a bold step towards ending reliance on importation of some vaccines to immunize vulnerable Nigerians against preventable diseases.
 
“I believe the board will deliver to make Nigerians proud. The members of the board were carefully selected, to forestall any room for failure. I commend the company for their patience and effort towards the realization of this project.” Adding that, “The name of May and Baker would be written in gold when the project succeeds.”
 
Members of the Board include Oyewole Tomori, a professor of Virology and former vice-chancellor, who will serve as the chairman-designate; Faisal Shuaib, Executive Secretary/CEO of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency; and .M. Lawal, Director of Food & Drugs, Federal Ministry of Health.
 
The other members from May&Baker include Nnamdi Okafor, Managing Director/CEO; Edugie Abebe, a former Permanent Secretary and current Director; Ayodeji Aboderin, Executive Director of Finance, May & Baker.
 
An expatriate Managing Director of Biovaccines is also expected to join the board soon, the statement added.
 
Mr. Okafor said it took over ten years to reach the agreement with the Nigerian government.
 
“The company has successfully engaged stakeholder groups to actualize the task of providing Nigeria a sustainable programme of immunisation through local production of vaccines,” he said.
 
“This inauguration signals a new beginning towards actualization of our dream as a Nation to develop capacity for local production of vaccines and biologicals. I thank President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the Honourable Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole and indeed the quartet of  past successive Ministers of Health; Professors Eyitayo Lambo, Adenike Grange, Babtunde Osotimehin and Onyebuchi Chukwu for the total commitment and selfless drive towards achieving this goal.”
 
In his response, Mr. Tomori assured Nigerians of the best , adding that  Nigeria wiould now be able to “produce those common vaccines from 2021 and beyond.”
 
“Overall, this move became paramount after an outbreak of Meningitis C, which killed many children in 2017 due to lack of emergency health preparedness and reliance on importation of vaccines that were not readily available. Hitherto, thousands of lives have been lost to preventable diseases over the years as well.
 
“This is good for Nigeria, as the citizens will have swift and unmitigated access to vaccines.  Henceforth, Nigeria will be respected as a vaccines producing country on the African continent alongside South Africa (fill finish only), Tunisia (producing limited BCG and rabies), Ethiopia (just starting), Egypt (some DTP and fill finish) and Senegal by Aventis Pasteur producing yellow fever vaccines.”
 
The Nigerian government had approved the joint venture to produce the vaccines between 2017 and 2021 during a Federal Executive Council meeting in May last year.
 
While the federal government will own 49 percent of the joint venture, May&Baker Plc will own 51 percent.
 
In December, both partners declined to tell PREMIUM TIMES why production did not begin in 2017.


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