MasterwebNews 11/7/16: Investing in local vaccines

[ Masterweb Reports: Odimegwu Onwumere reports ] - Ahead of 2016 conference of Anglophone Africa Peer Review Workshop on sustainable immunization financing in Abuja, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Ado Muhammed says Nigeria needs about $284 million to accomplish the expected goal in immunization.
Worried by the lack of local vaccine content in the country, the Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Lucy Ogbadu weeps bitterly in Abuja on March 11 2016 over what she sees as Nigeria’s failure to produce vaccines against typhoid and other killer diseases, knowing that, according to her, the good thing about vaccine production is that the same plant can be en suited with different apparatuses to go into to numerous vaccine productions. Hence, she wants to find out the reason owing to the fact that the country was producing vaccines many years ago, but no more. She is bewildered that not a single human vaccine is produced right now in Nigeria.
“This cannot continue, it has fallen within our mandate to act and make sure that the country goes back to producing vaccine” she harangues. “So, we have approached Cuba for this knowing that eight out of the 11 vaccines that are involved in the national immunization programmes in Cuba are produced in Cuba. Even with her third world country status, Cuba has gone far and nothing stops Nigeria from following suit.”
However, in 2012, the then President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the local production of vaccines with the take-off of Biovaccines Nigeria Limited, a joint venture company between Federal government and May & Baker Nigeria Plc, as part of the commitment towards ensuring constant availability of routine vaccines in the country. Media briefing on regeneration of the Federal government Joint Venture initiative with May & Baker Nigeria Plc on local Vaccine production held in Lagos.
“Our job is to revive that entity using our knowledge, expertise and resources to produce and distribute vaccines in Nigeria once again and consequently end the era of 100 per cent dependence on foreign vaccine producers to immunize our citizens against vaccine preventable diseases that ravage our society,” MD/CEO, May & Baker Nigeria Pic, Pharm. Nnamdi Okafor said.
Ogbadu is of the view that aside, Cuba also has a technology of polyvalent vaccine production. She says this means that pair of vaccine can be coalesced into one, therefore saving the receiver-person the suffering of taking several thrusts. She is mindful that with polyvalent vaccine development, one poke of vaccine, different vaccines can be met at the same time.
“Our major priority now is to commence local vaccines production as soon as possible. The Biovaccines business plan is being reviewed and will be presented to the Board as soon the latter is constituted. We plan to commence construction of a new vaccine plant at the new site in Ota, Ogun State with a view to starting production of Yellow Fever vaccines within 18 months,” Okafor added.
Seeking for ways
When Bauchi State was imbued with foreign snakes that got into the country through the massive flooding that enveloped 22 States of the country in 2012, which were noticed in Yuli village river by natives, the government through the Chairperson of Presidential sub-committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation, Professor Dora Akunyili (now late), sought for innovative approaches to delivery of vaccines. Samples of the snakes would be taken to establish the type of anti-venom vaccines for them.
“By going into local vaccine production, Nigeria will be putting the health security of her citizens in Nigerian hands. Immunization is a national health security issue. No country can afford to leave the health security of her citizens in the hands of foreign organisations.
“The venture would also save Nigeria substantial savings in foreign exchange and logistics costs of vaccine importation. Currently, the Federal Government spends over N6 billion to import vaccines every year, excluding what is imported by states and local governments,” Okafor said.
Looking for novel approach to help locals get vaccines when in such a situation, leaders on the continent converged on February 29 2016 to invest in local and regional ability for the manufacture of vital vaccines, being that immunization is identified as the best way to prevent diseases.
Dr Patrick Uduje, a Physician at Graceland Hospital, Lagos, said during 2015 World Immunization Week, “Studies show that vaccine preventable diseases are a major contributor to child morbidity and mortality especially in the Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria in particular.”
Losses to lack of vaccine
The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, clamoured that the country loses about 2,300 under-five year olds every single day with 22 per cent of these deaths caused by vaccine-preventable diseases. Given that, professionals admonished the need for parents to make sure that everything possible is done to enable infants who naturally inherit certain antibodies from their mothers, to begin to build theirs from say six months, when the antibiotics they gain begin to wane.
“The WHO’s statistics reveal that annually, vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million child deaths globally, especially from deaths which could have been prevented through immunization,” Uduje said.
It is knowledgeable that children are prone to diseases such as poliomyelitis, measles, diphtheria, serotype b infection, hepatitis, meningitis, mumps, pertussis, rebella, tetanus, tuberculosis, yellow fever, ad nauseam. Upon the government’s quest to save the environment from preventable deaths, some persons are wont to denying their wards contact with any form of vaccination for the fear that the authorities use the approach to establish heinous practices; some mothers even forget the date they ought to go for immunization of their kids.  
“These vaccine preventable diseases account for 17 per cent of global total under-five mortality per year and 22 per cent of child mortality in Nigeria.  
“This means that the appropriate deployment of relevant vaccines would significantly reduce mortality and that is why we appeal to parents to immunize their children and wards,’’ Uduje added.
The assemblage of the African leaders with the theme thus, ‘Universal Access to Immunization as a cornerstone for health and development’, made at the African Union (AU) headquarters, Ethiopia, geared towards increasing domestic financial investments in countries across the continent for the conveyance of schedule immunization vaccines in order to regularize Gross National Income for the availability of vaccines through inexpensive and impartial prices to all African countries.
The highlight of this was that if there were local contents of vaccines, the outbreak of the Meningitis C strain in decades that has killed 800 of 12 000 people infected in Nigeria and neighbouring Niger would not have been recorded, while international health officials fought to find Meningitis C vaccines to quell the outbreak from spreading. The World Health Organisation, WHO, showed anxiety that the cases have been rising since 2013. Manufacturers said that they could not produce stockpile five million doses of Meningococcal C conjugate (MenC) vaccine made from a small part of the Meningococcal bacteria, which were demanded by health officials to fight the menace.
“The Bacilli Calmette Guerin (BCG) is administered to a child at birth or as soon as possible after birth. The Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is given at birth and also at six, 10, and 14 weeks of age. OPV can also be received any other time, especially during the immunization weeks. Pentavalent vaccine is a combination of five vaccines-in-one that prevents diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepati
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