By Sola Ogundipe & Gabriel Olawale
AS Nigeria awaits the delivery of vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility and other platforms arranged by the federal government, the Academy of Medicine Specialties of Nigeria, AMSN, has said that with the quality of competent experts available in Nigeria, it is unbelievable that the country is still queuing to purchase COVID-19 vaccines when it should be producing.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Academy, Dr. Sonny Kuku, who stated this in Lagos, told Vanguard that Nigeria needs to work towards local production of COVID-19 vaccines because the virus is likely to be around for a longer time.
Kuku, who spoke ahead of the Inaugural Convocation and Investiture of the Academy slated Thursday, urged the Federal and State governments to fund local pharmaceutical companies to be able to produce the vaccines locally in order to make them relatively cheap and to promote availability. “As an Academy, we have a response team for COVID-19 made up of competent experts in different fields which relate to COVID-19 virus management.
“Government needs to look at the good side of local production and support local pharmaceutical companies to produce the vaccines. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, the mechanism of producing the vaccines is already there, be it AstraZeneca or Pfizer.
“All we need to do is to get the formula or the company itself to support local production as it’s done in India. and even South Africa just got the license recently.”
Harping on the importance of encouraging local production, Kuku said what is important at the moment is for the government to fund the pharmaceutical companies to be able to produce vaccines.
“What they need for it (vaccine production) is available. It is like paracetamol, the chemical is already there, all we need to do is to produce it en masse.
“The beauty of producing vaccines here in Nigeria is that you won’t need to rely on other countries to meet our local needs. What we went to pay $10 for outside, we can produce it for $1 locally.
“We have to do it because COVID-19 is here with us, is unlikely to go forever, it will be like influencer abroad where every year they experience it, give people vaccine and it will go. So it is not just COVID-19, we need to be ready for another unusual epidemic, and that is what this Academy was set up for – a place where people can brainstorm and produce paper son way forward.”
Corroborating his views, the Vice Chairman of the AMSN Board of Trustees, Emeritus Distinguished Professor Osato Giwa-Osagie, said that Academy aimed to promote excellence in Medical Research and Education, “also to promote the application of research in the practice of Medicine and the enhancement of human health and welfare.
“The Academy is merit-based, and members are persons qualified to practice medicine or dentistry or non-medical practitioners in other related medical sciences. Its members, elected based on their outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service, serve without compensation in studies and other activities on matters of significance to health.”
On his part, the President, AMSN, Professor Oladapo Ashiru, said that the Academy comprises 14 Emeritus Fellows and 117 Foundation Fellows.
“At the inaugural convocation/Investiture of the AMSN, five distinguished people will become honorary fellows.
“On the list are the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora; Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu; Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Founder of BUA Group, Alhaji Abdul Samad Isyak Rabiu”