In what sounds like good news to HIV/AIDS patients in Nigeria, Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka, a surgeon cum researcher, who claimed to have developed a vaccine for the treatment and prevention of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), has agreed to release the product of his brain child to the Federal Government of Nigeria, but not without terms of agreement.
Abalaka who had rejected a partnership with the government over the breakthrough last year, due to some illegal actions that welcomed the innovation from different quarters, said “when the FG discovered that the vaccines were potent, it sent agents to me with the sum of N10million for the breakthrough to be announced in Atlanta Georgia, USA, but I refused”.
However, while fielding questions from journalists at the weekend, Abalaka disclosed his willingness to now partner with various interested government agencies, in order to ensure the effective use of the vaccine, on negotiation with the government.
His vaccine recipe, he said, will be released to a chosen representative of the Nigerian government – a person of relevant profession for whom he will organize a workshop with practical sessions, while the workshop will focus on the production, storage and administration of the vaccines.
Recounting his ordeal over the development of the vaccine for the past 16 years of legal hurdles and tussles, he said although he feels pained that millions of people should have benefitted from his discovery before now, but it’s never late.
He said his attempt at finding a way forward in fighting the HIV pandemic came after attending a World Health Organization-sponsored workshop in 1974 in Geneva.
The WHO workshop formed a solid foundation of the conception of his innovation for safe and effective HIV vaccines.
He recommended that a national or state emergency vaccination programme for HIV control be created. He said the agency must be completely independent directly under the presidency or the state governor. The agency, he said, should also be funded by the Nigeria government in collaboration with private sector contributors.
It will be recalled that in 2000, the Olusegun Obasanjo administration suspended the use of all drugs or vaccines claimed to be used for the prevention, cure or treatment of HIV/AIDS until proper guidelines are approved for the assessing and verification of the claims.
However, a Federal High Court in Makurdi in November 2014 ruled against the ban on the controversial HIV vaccine developed by Mr. Abalaka.The judge ruled that the Federal Government was wrong to have banned Mr. Abalaka’s vaccine.
The court in its ruling then said there was no evidence that such guidelines were put in place after 15 years. It said the ban on Mr. Abalaka’s vaccine was done arbitrarily and therefore illegal, null and void.
However, it said Mr. Abalaka could only administer his vaccine with patient’s consent.