The Federal Government has officially appointed the Board of Directors for the Biovaccines Nigeria Limited- a joint venture between the Federal Government and Nigeria’s foremost pharmaceutical company – May&Baker Nigeria Plc.
This partnership comprises a seven-member Board with three members from the government, while the other four members are May&Baker designates who will run the day to day management of the business.
In a press release signed by the Corporate Communications Manager, May&Baker, Innocent Adulugba, it was stated that the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, formally kicked off local vaccines production with the appointment of the Board members.
Prof. Isaac Adewole, in his inaugural speech noted that the venture was embarked upon by the federal government in partnership with May&Baker with the intent of ending heavy reliance on importation of some vaccines to immunize vulnerable Nigerians against preventable diseases and he was confident the board will deliver to make Nigerians proud.
“The members of the board were carefully selected, to forestall any room for failure. I commend the company for their patience and effort towards the realization of this project. The name of May and Baker would be written in gold when the project succeeds”, he stated.
Members of the Board are: Eminent Virologist and former Vice Chancellor of the Redeemers University, Professor Oyewole Tomori, chairman; The Executive Secretary/CEO National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib and Director of Food & Drugs, Fed. Min. of Health, Pharm. M. Lawal completes the government team.
Other members from May&Baker are: Managing Director/CEO, Nnamdi Okafor; Dr Edugie Abebe – a former permanent secretary and current director; Mr Ayodeji Aboderin, executive director of finance, May & Baker; and an expatriate, Managing Director of Biovaccines is also expected to join the board soon.
In the words of the Managing Director/SEO, May&Baker, Nnamdi Okafor, it took over ten years to arrive at the agreement, adding that, “The Company has successfully engaged stakeholder groups to actualize the task of providing Nigeria a sustainable programme of immunisation through local production of vaccines.” Continuing, Okafor said, “This inauguration signals a new beginning towards actualization of our dream as a Nation to develop capacity for local production of vaccines and biologicals.
“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Honourable Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole and indeed the quartet of past successive Ministers of Health; Professors Eyitayo Lambo, Adenike Grange, Babtunde Osotimehin and Onyebuchi Chukwu for the total commitment and selfless drive towards achieving this goal.
Chairman of the local vaccine production committee, Prof Oyewale Tomori assured Nigerians of the best said Nigeria will now be able to “produce those common vaccines from 2021 and beyond.”
He further explained the overall motive behind the project, saying the move became imperative after an outbreak of Meningitis C, which killed many children in 2017 due to lack of emergency health preparedness and reliance on importation of vaccines that were not readily available. Hitherto, thousands of lives have been lost to preventable diseases over the years as well.
Okafor assured all citizens of the swift and unmitigated access to the vaccines, as soon as they are available, while noting that it will also earn the country some respect as vaccines producing nation on the African continent alongside South Africa (fill finish only), Tunisia (producing limited BCG and rabies), Ethiopia (just starting), Egypt (some DTP and fill finish) and Senegal by Aventis Pasteur producing yellow fever vaccines.