The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says the Federal Government is determined to make a bold step on Vaccines production in the country.
Ehanire said this on Friday in Abuja, at the special National Council on Health (NCH) meeting, organized by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).
The 2021 theme is “The Journey to Attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Applying Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic Towards Building A Resilient National Health System”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2014 National Health Act recognizes the NCH as the highest policy-making body within the Nigerian health sector.
The responsibilities of the NCH include the protection, promotion, improvement and maintenance of the health of the citizens of Nigeria and the formulation of policies.
The Council is also tasked with ensuring the delivery of basic health services to Nigerians.
The minister noted that the vaccine urgency was not just for COVID-19, but no one knows what is coming in future.
According to him, countries across the world have suffered severely from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even those who have strong health systems appeared to have been almost defeated by the number of casualties they had.
Ehanire stated that as the country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerians must not believe that the Pandemic is over.
He added that the detection of the Omicron variant should teach anyone that the virus keeps surprising the world.
“We must not let down our guards. We must continue with our non-pharmaceutical interventions, the public health measures that are advised. We can’t do away with them. They are the most secure and the cheapest ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
The Minister disclosed that the Federal government is preparing to build one oxygen production plant in every state, while two would be in Lagos because of its high demand and one in the FCT.
“Oxygen should be available even at the primary healthcare centers, not just for COVID-19 but for other health emergencies,” he added.
The former Minister of Health in Nigeria, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said that before the COVID-19 Pandemic, India was producing 50 per cent of the world’s needs for vaccines.
Chukwu noted that India shares similar demographics, they are larger than Nigeria but it is a country Nigeria can emulate.
The Former Minister of health highlighted the need for a multi-sectoral approach for the success in vaccines production in the country.
According to the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, Africa has suffered so much in terms of COVID-19 vaccines distributions.
Mamora said that the vaccine distributions have been very low for obvious reasons.
He added that it was time for the country to come together and start manufacturing the vaccines by itself, given the global inequity in the COVID-19 vaccine distributions.
“We are sure that the United Nations’ Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and others on the global stage can play a critical role in this,” he added.
Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, World Health Organisation (WHO), representative in Nigeria, said that health should be considered as an enabler for economic development.
Mulombo added that without good health, there is no security, development and human capital capable of driving any developmental agenda.
Meanwhile, Dr Ngozi Azodoh, Director Health Planning Research and Statistics, FMOH, said that the pandemic had been a turning point not just in the health sector, but in every sector of human existence had been touched.
Azodoh added that as part of the ministry’s efforts to ensure that Nigeria comes out top during the pandemic, it had been looking at strengthening the systems and structure that support the health sector in the country.
“One of those areas which is key is local vaccine manufacturing.
“This is a special session on the NC, which the honorable minister has put together to leverage the visit of the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, to again have a conversation around the health security for the country,” she added.