As part of activities to mark the World Immunisation Week, April 24 to 30, the Federal Government has advanced plans to locally produce essential vaccines in the country and refurbish the moribund in Yaba, Lagos.
Also, Nigeria has began the ‘switch’ from using trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (tOPV) to bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) in the routine immunization programme. The National Switch Committee commenced the historic switch in Nigeria on April 19, 2016, and is expected to complete the process and submit report to the World Health Organisation on May 2, 2016.
Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a statement ahead of the World Immunisation Week, noted: “Immunization averts two to three million deaths annually; however, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improves. Today, an estimated 18.7 million infants – nearly one in five children – worldwide are still missing routine immunizations for preventable diseases, such as diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.”
Every year the world specifically dedicates a week in April 24 to 30 to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. The Global theme for 2016 is the same as that for 2015, which is “Close the Immunization Gap campaign.” For WHO Afro regional countries the week is named “Africa Vaccination week-AVW” and the theme for 2016 is “Close the Immunization gaps. Stay polio free!”
Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Ado Gana Muhammad, told The Guardian in an exclusive interview to mark the World Immunisation Week that the Federal Government’s plan to locally produce vaccines is still ongoing.
Muhammad said: “Government plan is still very much on the table. With the coming of this new administration and on the need to be self-sufficient in local vaccine manufacturing, another round of meeting chaired by the Minister of Health (HMH) and attended by the Minister of State for Health (HMSH), Permanent Secretary (PS), NPHCDA and May and Baker (M&B) pharmaceuticals took place in March 2016, in Abuja in order to explore avenues to move this project forward. The FMOH is providing leadership to make it happen.”
On the planned resuscitation of Yellow Fever (YF) vaccine plant in Yaba, Lagos, the NPHCDA boss said: “The Government of Nigeria plan and in line with the global best practices is to resuscitate Yaba YF vaccine plant using a Public-Private Partnership arrangement. Since 2005, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the FMoH and a local pharmaceutical company, May & Baker that was followed by the signing of a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) in 2007.
This shows how serious the country is committed to in the production of YF both for our domestic use and subsequently for export.”
WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, said: “Last year immunization led to some notable wins in the fight against polio, rubella and maternal and neonatal tetanus.
“But they were isolated wins. Polio was eliminated in one country (Nigeria), tetanus in three, and rubella in one geographical region. The challenge now is to make gains like this the norm.”