By Emmanuel Elebeke
Abuja—The federal government is set to commence local production of vaccines as a deliberate effort to save the lives of more than seven million new born babies in the country.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, stated this while receiving the Nigerian Immunization Financing Task Force Team in his office in Abuja yesterday.
The Minister said the Ministry was determined to lead the way in the local production of vaccines, saying there was no justification for the nation to continue to spend on importation of what it could do.
He said: “We used to produce and export vaccines in the past, Today, we are struggling to be self-sufficient, we need to go back to those things that helped us in the past.
‘’We don’t want to continually remain a poor nation, and rather being recipient of grants, we should be able to give grants to other countries.
“The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology will lead the way in making sure that vaccines are produced in the country to satisfy local needs and eventually for export to other African countries.”
Onu, who commended the team for being selfless in its efforts, urged it to work more in the common interest of the nation.
Earlier, leader of the team Dr. Benson Anyene, said the main goal of the team was to help Nigeria achieve Sustainable Immunization Financing by putting in place concrete efforts that would address gaps in the vaccines chain.
According to him, it has become obvious that if immediate actions are not taken quickly too, Nigeria may find itself in a position where it would no longer immunize children due to non-availability of vaccines.
He said the aim was also to get the federal government to increase the budget on immunization, establish an immunization fund and get the state to contribute to immunization procurement.
He noted that 25 per cent of Nigerian children died annually as a result of lack of immunization, as Nigeria had not produced any vaccine since 1991.
He stressed the need for policy documents and bankable business plan that would shape the sector and solicited the support of the ministry towards the realization of the project.