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BVNL, Biovac partner on vaccines initiative for Africa


Technical Advisor, Biovaccines Nigeria Limited (BVNL), Syed Ahmed (left); Chief Operations Officer, The Biovac Institute (Biovac), Dierk E. Rebeski; Managing Director/CEO, May & Baker Nigeria Plc, Nnamdi Okafor; Biovac’s Head of Department, Science & Innovation, Patrick Tippoo; Director, Disease Control & Immunisation, Dorothy Nwodo; Project Manager BVNL, Everest Okeakpu; Biovac CEO, Morena Makhoana and Chief Quality Officer, Denice Smit during BVNL team’s visit to Biovac in Cape Town, South Africa

Stakeholders in the pharmaceutical sector have put measures in place to strengthen vaccine intiative on the African continent.This was disclosed at the inauguration of the Board of Biovaccines Nigeria Limited (BVNL) recently with a commitment to “hit the ground running”.

The BVNL team paid a working visit to The Biovac Institute (BIOVAC) in Cape Town, South Africa recently and engeged in a two-day learning exchange, which they said was very engaging and insightful.Chief Executive Officer of BIOVAC, Morena Makhoana who received their Nigerian counterparts said: “BIOVAC is keen on the initiative to work in furtherance of the specific collaborative avenues towards vaccine security and capacity building in Africa.”

Makhoana hosted the BVNL delegation with Head of Department, Science & Innovation, Patrick Tippoo, Chief Quality Officer, Denice Smit and who serves as Chief Operations Officer, Dierk Rebeski. The BVNL contingent also included Director Disease Control & Immunisation, Dorothy Nwodo, who represented one of the newly inducted Directors BVNL, Faisal Shuaib.

Others on the team were Director BVNL and Managing Director/CEO, May & Baker Nigeria Plc, Nnamdi Okafor and Technical Advisor BVNL, Syed Ahmed and Project Manager, Everest Okeakpu.Okafor said: “We are here principally to immerse ourselves with the pragmatics of the operational intricacies, which pertain to vaccine manufacturing and to explore the possibility of synergy towards building capacity for vaccine manufacturing in Africa, so as to strengthen the Africa Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative (AVMI).”

BIOVAC and BVNL share institutional and operational similarities in many respects. For instance, the BVNL is government and private sector joint venture agreement (JVA) between the Federal Government of Nigeria (49 per cent) and May & Baker Nigeria Plc (51 per cent). The partnership comprises seven member Board with three members from the government and four from May & Baker, including the MD/CEO who must be an expert in the pharmaceutical industry.

Accordingly, the BIOVAC was established in 2003 as a public private partnership (PPP) between the Biovac Consortium and the South African government. While ensuring continuity of supply of paediatric vaccines to the South African Department of Health, Biovac has been working at building vaccine-manufacturing capacity in South Africa.

This has culminated in the award of a manufacturing license, even as Biovac entered a full-scale product development of a novel vaccine in partnership with international partners.

Instructively, Africa manufactures less than one per cent of the total vaccines in Africa. Collaborations between organisations from two of Africa’s regional powers in the capital intensive pharmaceutical industry and technological dimensions would hopefully set the agenda for bridging the gap.

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