The Federal Executive Council, FEC, has approved a joint venture agreement between the federal government and May & Baker plc for the production of vaccines between 2017 and 2021.
Minister of Health, Issac Adewole made this known while briefing State House correspondents after Wednesday’s FEC meeting presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Adewole said according to the agreement, the federal government would own 49 per cent of the joint venture while May and Baker would own 51 per cent.
He noted that Nigeria has been producing and exporting vaccines such as smallpox, yellow fever, and anti-rabies vaccines to some African countries since 1940.
According to the Minister, the Vaccine Production laboratory stopped production in 1991 as the government wanted to reactivate and upgrade the facility, but that did not take place till today.
“What Council did today was to put life into this joint venture agreement that proposes to establish a company called Bio-vaccines Ltd which will be jointly owned by Federal Government of Nigeria and May and Baker Plc,” Adewole said.
He added that the vaccine production company would be expected to meet the nation’s basic vaccines requirements in the next four years with a take-off capital of N100 million.
Adewole added that May and Becker would make an equity contribution of N1.3 billion while the federal government would contribute N1.2 billion. The board of the company will comprise seven people, four from May and Baker and three from federal government.
“The company between 2017 and 2021 will produce basic vaccines that we need,” the Minister said.
“We have considered vaccines as a security issue, it is not only health but we need to consider the security of all Nigerians particularly our children.
“So, with this agreement we will be able to produce those common vaccines and from 2021 and beyond other vaccines that are necessary will also be out in board for administration to Nigerians.
“We are quite happy that today it has taken place and we believe that Nigeria has started a journey to vaccines security.”
Adewole also said that the outbreak of meningitis is almost at its end, adding that “what we are now doing is to now prepare to ensure that this does not repeat itself next year.”
He also briefed the council about the unfortunate incident where a body was flown into the country from the Democratic Republic of Congo, by Kenya Airways without the necessary approval.
“The standard procedure is that for you to fly in a body into Nigeria you need a waiver, a sort of approval by the Federal Ministry of Health.”
The health minister said the ministry had already notified the International Civil Aviation Authority so that Kenya airways will be formerly sanctioned.
“But we want to assure Nigerians that the body tested negative to Ebola and any of the hemorrhagic fevers.
“We know the cause of death but for confidential reasons we do not have to disclose it. But it is nothing really to worry about,” he said.