The House of Representatives has resolved to meet with all relevant stakeholders with a view to providing legislative framework for local production of vaccine.
This was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Chike Okafor (APC-Imo) at the plenary on Tuesday.
Okafor recalled that the Yaba Vaccine Production Laboratory in Lagos State was active in vaccine production for about six decades, between 1940 and 1991.
He said that the lab produced large quantities of vaccines against smallpox, rabies and yellow fever for not only Nigeria, but also for neighbouring countries like Cameroon and other African countries.
The rep said that the lab was closed down by the Federal Government in 1991 in order to upgrade the facility for optimal production but that the facility had remained locked until date.
He said that there was an urgent need to produce vaccine locally to address the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and other diseases.
Okafor recalled that in 2017, the federal government signed a partnership agreement with May and Baker Nigeria Plc., to float a company named Biovaccine Ltd.
He said that the company was to commence local vaccine production in Nigeria but was yet to start production of those life saving vaccines.
“Presently African Countries like South Africa, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Senegal have functional laboratories for production and export of vaccines for use and export.
“Cognisant of the need for Nigeria to speed up the commencement of local vaccine production for domestic use and export, especially now the world is faced with the ravaging COVID-19 and other terminal diseases.
“Nigeria spends over N4 billion annually on importation of vaccines, an amount which, if vaccines are locally produced will reduce the volume of monies spent on importation, local delivery, insurance and handling charges,” he said.
The lawmaker said that the partnership agreement between the federal government and May and Baker Nigeria Plc., if implemented, would improve the technical capacities of Nigerian scientists and engineers and the value chain.
He said it would improve Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector and also expose experts to the technological advancements involved in vaccine production.
Okafor said that a successful production of local vaccines would help the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health to effectively tackle outbreaks such as COVID-19.
He said that local vaccine production would not only save Nigeria billions of naira from vaccine importation but would go a long way in guaranteeing availability of vaccines during routine immunisation and for export.
In his ruling, the Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila mandated all the relevant Committees of the house to ensure compliance.
The committees include Healthcare Services, Health Institutions and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
They are to invite the Minister, Federal Ministry of Health, the Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the Director General, NCDC and the Executive Director, May and Baker Nigeria Plc.
The committees and the stakeholders are to deliberate on possible ways of getting the needed legislative support to fast track the production of vaccines in Nigeria.
The speaker mandated the committee to report back within four weeks for further legislative action.