Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate, said that Nigeria has the potential to become a hub for local vaccine production and distribution in Africa.
Mr Pate made this known in Abuja while addressing newsmen on the Renewed Hope for Nigeria’s Health and Social Welfare.
The minister cited Nigeria’s large population, skilled workforce, and existing pharmaceutical industry as factors that could support the development of a robust vaccine manufacturing sector in the country.
“On Local vaccine manufacturing, as you are all aware until I came back as a minister I was going to work with GAVI , an international organisation created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. And GAVI also shapes vaccine markets.
“What is clear is that market shaping is a key Instrument. Nigeria has over 200 million people and that’s a large market. We intend to pull that demand and hopefully use that to catalysed local manufacturing,” he said.
He also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of local vaccine production and the need for African countries to be self-sufficient in this area.
“If we do not produce more than 30 per cent of our pharmaceutical generics, let’s think of biological, like vaccines, that will take a little bit more time.
“There are already programmes that have been established for the last 15 to 16 years and there have not yet produced a dose of vaccine here.,” he lamented.
However, he acknowledged that there were challenges to be overcome, such as lack of investment and infrastructure, regulatory barriers, and limited access to technology and expertise.
“Vaccine production is not something we will say we will do in two or three months.
“But, what we can assure Nigerians is that very soon, they will hear what we are doing in this arena so that over time Nigeria can graduate from dependency from some medical commodities if not all medical commodities,” he assured.