From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said on Monday that all was set for Nigeria to begin the production of vaccines having met the recommendations listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Maturity Level Three status.
The Agency explained that Maturity Level Three is a compulsory status for any country that want to venture into vaccine production and other activities around that.
NAFDAC Director General Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, who disclosed the information at a joint press conference with the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, in Abuja, said that WHO made 868 recommendations to Nigeria and they have all been met.
She said: ‘The journey for the feat started in January 2018, and by October 2021, Nigeria through the efforts of NAFDAC with support from Federal Ministry of Health, has met the recommendations and it’s expected that soon, WHO officials would give approval for Nigeria to begin the production of vaccine.
‘Having met all the criteria, we are waiting for the WHO officials to physically visit the headquarters of NAFDAC to assess the requirements before a final decision on Maturity Level Three status. What it simply means is that Nigeria is closer to manufacturing vaccines, and the success was as a result of a change in culture and way of doing things.’
She confirmed that relevant infrastructures and procurements have been provided to support the desired objective. ‘We have expanded our drugs laboratory in Yaba, and our vaccine laboratory is also being built in Oshodi, both in Lagos, and it will be completed soon.’
She maintained that medical science is not static, but dynamic and changing with time. ‘The rules that applies to medical sciences several years ago may not be relevant in today’s world or must have been modified.
‘Undoubtedly, we produced yellow fever and other vaccines in Nigeria years ago, but the rules have changed. The rule is that any country that wants to produce vaccines must have a strong regulatory system, and that might be the reason for the many recommendations of NAFDAC.’
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, in his remarks, appreciated the efforts of NAFDAC officials and informed that Africa relies on Nigeria for such interventions in health and other sectors, hence failure shouldn’t be part of the agenda.