By G9ija

Nigeria’s quest to attain success and self-sufficiency in local, vaccine production may soon be a thing of the past as the Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with local and international partners, began a 2-day Stakeholders’ Validation Meeting at The Dover Hotel, Lekki, Lagos. The event which kicked off on Monday, September 7, 2021 brought together experts from different sections of the nation’s health industry as well as representatives of international development agencies such as the WHO, UNICEF, USAID, Bloom Public Health and CHAI.

Welcoming guests, Director, Food and Drugs Department of the Federal Ministry of Health, Pharm. Olubukola Ajayi, who also represented the honourable Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, thanked participants and all ythose who made the event possible. She stated that putting together the Nigeria Vaccine Policy was a product of collaborations with a team of technocrats from allied health institutions. According to her, all state ministries of health are being carried along as soft copies of the policy document have been sent to them for necessary inputs.

Speaking at the event, WHO consultant. Dr Omotayo Hamzat, stressed the need for all stakeholders to pursue the project beyond just a mere policy document. He called on government and other stakeholders to ensure a strict implementation of the policy. On his part, Lead Consultant, Pharm Umar Kawu, outlined the value intrinsic in the vaccine policy, adding that the policy should not be monopolistic but generic, inclusive and nationalistic in outlook, irrespective of the MoU between the Federal Ministry of Health and Biovaccines.

For former Director, Food and Drugs department of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Joel Adagadzu, working with the team of technocrats on the formulation of the policy has been a wonderful experience. He particularly lauded the leadership exhibited by Dr Omotayo Hamzat and other members of the team. Calling on all stakeholders to ensure that the policy is all-encompassing, Pharm Rahman Kelani of Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), added that nothing stops for other local players from being actively involved in the implementation process, bearing in mind the nation’s dire need for of local vaccines manufacturers.

CEO, Bloom Public Health, Professor Chimezie Anyakora, also called for a level playing ground in the implementation of the policy, especially as it concerns local manufacturing. “There will be a level playing ground in order to ensure sustainability. There is no intention to promote monopoly through the joint venture with Biovaccines. We shall carry everyone along in this project and the ultimate agenda is to ensure a robust vaccine policy for Nigeria.

Speaking also, Executive Secretary of PMG-MAN, Pharm Frank Mouneme, who attended the event virtually, said: “The policy is timely because of the times we in. for us to have a smart policy that is forward-thinking and easy to implement, we need to have the Finance Ministry and the Nigeria Customs Service involved. This is necessary because we need to have a comprehensive policy”.