By Prudence Eboagwu-Ijah
The Federal Government of Nigeria has been advised to implement one of the commitments made at the Vaccine Summit which entails vaccine research and development and local production of vaccines in the country.
The Executive Director Centre for Accountability and and Inclusive Development (CAAID) Aanu’ Rotimi who gave the advice on Thursday in Abuja at a roundtable discussion and media engagement by Vaccine Network for Disease Control and CAAID titled 10 years after the National Vaccine Summit: Journey so far towards IA2030, highlighted some of the progress made so far.
The engagement which was in commemoration of the 2022 World Immunization/African Vaccination Week had analysis of the twelve commitments, presented scoarcards on each commitment with emphasis on commitments that requires urgent intervention.
Rotimi while enumerating the twelve commitments on vaccination made ten years ago, hinted that a major commitment that will define progress for Nigeria is the country’s local production of vaccines and this hasnt been achieved.
“its ten years since the national vaccine summit held, we are taking stock to ascertain if we are making progress. We needed to monitor our milestone, identify our successes as well as the areas that requires more work. We have been able to eradicate wild polio virus.”
“Vaccine financing is still a challenge, also the commitment as regards local vaccine production dosent have much to show for it. Also the introduction of new vaccines and adulthood vaccines and country ownership of vaccines, these are the gaps that have been identified within the commitments that needs to be addressed.” Rotimi said.
Speaking on the successes 10 years after the Vaccine Summit, the Chief Executive officer of Vaccine Network for Disease Control Chika Offor highlited that wild polio virus has been eradicated, also introduction of new vaccines into the routine Immunization programa has been achieved, the inclusion of insurance into the vaccination and the engagement of religious leaders has also been achieved.
She added that after the integration of polio into routine Immunization, it is critical to maintain surveillance to ensure wild polio virus dosent resurface hence the need for children who take vaccines to complete their dosages.
In her words, Offor said “It is time that Nigeria the gaint of Africa take charge of her vaccine story and produce her own vaccine as she has the capacity to make this happen.”
The Country Director of Pathfinder International in Nigeria, Dr Amina Aminu Dorayi, affirmed that Nigeria has moved the needle with vaccine and Immunization coverage ten years after the vaccine summit but stated that there is alot to do to improve Immunization coverage as vaccine hesitancy has remained a key challenge hence the need for proper education and information dissemination on vaccine safety.
“We still have many children who dont have access to Immunization, also Covid-19 has also impacted on our vaccine Immunization system. No matter what we do at the health system level, without addressing vaccine hesitancy, our work wont have much impact.” Dorayi stated.
Dr Dorayi reinstated the need to work with civil socity groups that are closer to the people for them to understand how important vaccines are to the health of the people.
A virologist and chairman Expert Review Committee on COVID-19 Professor Oyewale Tomori while appriasing Nigeria’s vaccine journey ten years after said we have won the battle on polio but the war still goes on hence the need to apply the same strategy, he called for an increase in routine Immunization to ensure no child is leff behind.
“On the local production of vaccines, Tomori said that research and development of vaccines is on course as there is a building, plan and partnership ongoing, while federal government’s infusion and collaboration will go a long way in speeding up the process”
“The approval and funds have been released, the land has been bought, the engineering plan has been approved, the environment impact assessment has also been done, if not for the impact of COVID-19, we are hoping that the building will come up before the end of this year.” Oyewale assured.
The rountable discussion which had in attendance vaccines experts across the country including the Federal Ministry of Health evaluated the progress made so far and advocated for renewed commitment towards achieving the rest committed before IA2030.
The vaccine stakeholders stressed the need to revamp the vaccine commitment so that vaccine preventable diseases can be achieved, adding that Nigeria’s Immunization economy shouldn’t depend on externalities but rather internalities.