By Oluwafunke Ishola
The Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) says boosting Nigeria’s vaccine production capacity requires the commitment of the Federal Government to implement transformative actions.
Mr Oluseyi Oyebisi, Executive Director, NNNGO, said this at a news conference on Friday in Lagos.
Oyebisi noted that the lack of prioritisation and funding for vaccine production could leave Nigeria unprepared and yet again ,make her look up to others for vaccines.
He recalled that the World Health Organisation in February 2022 announced Nigeria as one of the first six countries that would receive the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines in Africa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the global mRNA technology transfer hub was established in 2021 to support manufacturers in low-and middle-income countries to develop capacity for local vaccines production.
“Over a year after the announcement, where are we in our journey to vaccine production in Nigeria?
“The Nigeria Network of NGOs sees that achieving national vaccine production cannot be achieved by keeping the current pace of lack of political will, inadequate funding, weak accountability and transparency in the allocation and use of resources.
“We must break up bureaucracies, monopolies in government, improve access to timely funding, improve national research capacities and support innovations that ramp up quick production of life-saving vaccines that Nigerians desperately need,” he said.
Oyebisi noted that recent diseases outbreak in the country such as malaria, diphtheria, cholera, measles, and meningitis have shown that the protection of people’s health must be top priority for governments and institutions at all levels.
“Health is a right that must be protected as it is a cornerstone for national security and economic growth.
“Public health services across the country continue to suffer from underfunding and weak infrastructure, further increasing inequality,” he said.
He, therefore, called for strengthening of local and regional capacities for the manufacturing, regulation, and procurement of needed tools for equitable and effective access to vaccines.
To achieve this, Oyebisi called for adequate funding and technical support for Nigerian Vaccine Hub under the WHO Spoke arrangements to maximise production and supply for all.
Oyebisi also appealed for transparency and accountability mechanisms that would enable civil society and community to scrutinise funding decisions and implementation of programmes.
He called for robust finance for the health system including primary health care and health workers.
“These actions should be the priority of President Bola Tinubu’s administration as they are capable of fixing the structural problems in our national health system that have held back the response to COVID-19 and other vaccine preventable diseases.
“It is time to improve our pandemic preparedness and response. Never again should Nigerians wait for vaccine handouts from other countries.
“Never again will the lives of people in wealthy countries be prioritised over the lives of people in the Global South. Never again!” he said. (NAN)
Edited by Buhari Bolaji