FG, May & Baker To Produce Vaccine In Nigeria
- Written by Oluwafemi Olowookere
The Federal Government of Nigeria has joined forces with May & Baker Nigeria PLC to resume production of vaccine locally at Federal Vaccine Production Laboratory (FVPL), Yaba, Logos.
This was announced by the Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, while briefing the House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services on the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Federal Government of Nigeria and May & Baker PLC, on Biovaccines Nigeria Limited for manufacturing of vaccines in Nigeria.
Adewole explained that the Federal Vaccine Production Laboratory, Yaba was established in 1940 mainly for the production of Anti-rabies, Small Pox and Yellow Fever Vaccines for local consumption and export; until 1991 when it was shut down for upgrading but due to paucity of funds the upgrading had not been carried out.
It was in view of that, Adewole noted the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Health, in 2004 considered partnership with May and Baker PLC for the production of the local vaccines.
Prof. Adewole said that May and Baker was not just selected for the partnership but was considered the best among other proposal from various pharmaceutical companies that showed interest for the partnership.
The Minister said in June 2015, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Federal Ministry of Health and May & Baker for the purpose of reviving the former Federal Vaccine Production Laboratory in order to meet up with the vaccines need of the country. In the same year, a new company Biovaccines Nigeria Limited was incorporated as the special vehicle to realize the content of the MOU.
“In this arrangement, the Federal Government holds 49% of the share of the Biovaccines Nigeria Limited while May & Baker PLC holds 51%.
The Minister explained that in 2016 the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing valued the FVPL and declared the value at N1,274,851,000.00 which serves as the Federal Government equity contribution(49%) while May & Baker would source for more funds for full take-off of the business. The Federal Government is not going to spend a kobo on the project apart the valuated FVPL.
In addition May & Baker has appointed Shantha Biotechnics and Bharat Biotech of India as Major Technical Partner for the project.
It is expected that ratification of the Joint Venture Agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and May & Baker for the production of local vaccines through Biovaccines Nigeria Limited will ensure a sustained availability of essential vaccines required for the nation’s various immunizations programmes.
Production is expected to commence between now and 2021 when the current arrangement of sourcing for the vaccines through UNICEF which is heavily subsidized to about 80% by the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) is expected to come to an end.
The local production of vaccines would lead to creation of jobs, acquisition of new skills and technology, conservation of scarce foreign exchange and earning of foreign exchange through possible exportation. This is in addition in ensuring vaccines security for the nation.
To ensure a competitive atmosphere, the Ministry is in the process of engaging other interested parties and countries such as Cuba to also commence vaccines production in Nigeria.
Concluding his briefing, Prof. Adewole assured Nigerians that appropriate measures are in place in the JVA to ensure high quality and safety of locally produced vaccines.
At the end of the session, the Chairman House Committee on Healthcare Services, Deacon. Chike John Okafor, appreciated the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health on the project; the Committee, however resolved to invite May & Baker PLC, to come and explain its capability and technical known-how to handle the project.