By G9ija

The Federal Government has been commended for its determination to invest more to help Nigeria’s pharmaceutical and research agencies produce locally developed vaccines.

Mr. Friday Udoh, Chief Coordinator, Nigerian Institute of Chartered Economists (ICEN), South-South, gave the eulogy on Friday in an interview with the Nigerian News Agency (NAN).

Udoh, also a member of the Society for Behavioral Medicine in the US, said President Buhari had good intentions in his administration’s determination to maximize the resources inherent to developing vaccines.

According to him, such a resolution puts Nigeria in an advantageous position should another pandemic break out in the future.

“The United Nations COMTRADE places the cost of importing pharmaceutical products from Nigeria in 2019 alone at $ 1.45 billion and more than 70 percent of the medicines consumed in the country are imported.

“This is largely due to the weak production capacity of the country, a situation that could hardly be explained in the case of spending on tertiary and research institutions in the country.

Udoh said, however, that it will hardly be possible to achieve such policy pronouncements unless there is an evidence-based policy and a proactive framework to meet the goals.

He said: “Tax incentives and exemption from import duties for at least three years on imported pharmaceutical raw materials and machinery are necessary for profitability.

“Improving or introducing a more robust framework is also important, both in terms of standard setting and better reserves of human capital.

What is required to grow local pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, he added, would include special funds to support start-ups in the sector.

“This will contain the regulatory cost, the improved quality of the product, to compete with imported products.”

Buhari, in his nationwide broadcast on Nigeria’s 61st independent anniversary on Friday, reminded the global community that the current state of access to COVID-19 vaccines was unacceptable.

He also told the nation that his administration could not afford a situation where a handful of countries would save the world’s supply of vaccines at the expense of other nations.

“We must act now to accelerate the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. This is the message I delivered to the international community in New York last week.

“As we strive to source vaccines for our immediate needs, we will invest more to help our research and pharmaceutical agencies generate ideas for locally developed vaccines.

“If another pandemic arises in the future, our question is simple; Will Nigeria be ready? ”, he claimed.

Buhari also directed the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Health, Education, and Science and Technology to work with Nigerian and international pharmaceutical companies and research organizations to enhance Nigeria’s national pharmaceutical capacity.