By Olanrewaju Akojede
Lagos – The President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mr Ahmed Yakasai, on Thursday said efforts were being intensified toward achieving local production of vaccines in Nigeria from 2018.
Yakasai made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the ongoing Medic West Africa Exhibition at the Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, had in June said that the
Federal Executive Council had approved a joint venture (JV) agreement with May and Baker Plc to produce vaccines in Nigeria.
Adewole made this known after the council meeting presided over by the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, May and Baker Plc will be given an initial capital of N100 million ($328,515) to produce vaccines.
“Government will own 49 per cent stake in the venture while May and Baker will own 51 per cent stake.’’
Yakasai said that in other to reduce the outbreak of tropical diseases in the country, local production of vaccines was being encouraged, adding that Nigeria had signed a tripartite agreement on it.
“PSN has been advocating the manufacturing of vaccines locally and now, government has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with May and Baker, to start the production of vaccines.
“Again, the issue of health should be on the side of prevention rather than curative. Prevention has a lot to do with personal hygiene and lifestyles.
“As the popular saying goes, “prevention is better than cure; we don’t really take this to cognizance as far as our health status is concerned; but it is what everybody needs.
“We always leave it too late to attend to our health before it degenerates. For instance, we already know the season when we do have meningitis outbreak, but we always fail to prepare,’’ he said.
Yakasai said that research was ongoing on the commercial production of local herbs, an alternative to the importation of finished drugs.
“There are many researches going on which are being sponsored by PSN on how we can develop our local herbs and convert them to drugs to stem importation of drugs.
“We can also produce our local herbs, which are in abundance, just like India and China and some other Asian countries. We can boast that ours is even considered best.
“The only problem we are facing as regards this is that we are looking for investors or consortium of companies that can form a partnership to produce the drugs.
“If we are armed with our own locally produced herbs, we will not have to go abroad for importation, rather we will increase our own Gross Domestic Products (GDP) through exportation,” he said.
Yakasai said that proper use of technology in detection of sickness was another way by which healthcare could be simplified and accessible to the public.
“We are also advocating the use of technology such as telemedicine and others to improve our healthcare system. The use of these gadgets will make contract with doctors easier.
“Drugs can also be purchased online as well as diagnosis of patients as it is being done in overseas. All what we need is the synergy between the medical professional and the telecommunications providers.
“Sometimes, people talk about China products. China products are not bad; it is not about the country, but about individuals when they go with corrupt mind to meet corrupt people.
“It is only some individuals in Nigeria that demands for substandard drugs from the Chinese, but by defence, we are in partnership with China on quality drugs,’’ he said. (NAN)