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COVID -19: Reps urges speedy production of local vaccines

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Federal House of Representatives PHOTO: Twitter

…..push for payment of outstanding salaries of healthcare personnel

The House of Representatives yesterday called for a speedy production of locally made vaccine to rid the country of the Coronavirus infectious disease.

The House also called on the authorities to ensure the protection and payment of outstanding salaries of healthcare personnel involved in the battle to contain the disease.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Mr Chike Okafor at the plenary presided by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the House mandated it’s Committees on Healthcare Services, Health Institutions and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria to invite the Minister of Health, Mr Osagie Ehanire , the Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Executive Director, May and Baker Nigeria PLC to brief the Committees and deliberate on possible ways of getting the needed legislative support to fast track the production of vaccines in Nigeria.

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The committee is to report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

Okafor (Imo: APC) while moving the motion argued that a successful production of local vaccines will help the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health to effectively tackle outbreaks such as the recent outbreak of Gastroenteritis in Lagos which claimed lives and the current ravaging COVID-19.

The lawmaker stressed that local vaccine production will not only save Nigeria Billions of naira from vaccine importation but will go a long way in guaranteeing availability of vaccines during routine immunization as well as exports to other African Countries, thereby cutting down the cost of vaccines in Nigeria.

He recalled that the Yaba Vaccine Production Laboratory Lagos was active in vaccine production for about six decades, between 1940 and 1991, producing large quantities of vaccines against smallpox, rabies and yellow fever for not only Nigeria, but also for neighbouring countries like Cameroon, and other African countries.

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He said it was unfortunate that since the Yaba Vaccine Production Laboratory, was closed down by the Federal Government in 1991 in order to upgrade the facility for optimal production, the facility has remained under lock and key till date.

Stating that in 2017, the Federal Government signed a partnership agreement with May and Baker Nigeria PLC to float a company named Biovaccine Limited for the commencement of local vaccine production in Nigeria, however, he remarked that it was unfortunate that the company is yet to commence the production of those live saving vaccines.

On the safety of health personnel, the House while adopting the motion sponsored by Dr. Yusuf Tanko Sununu and four others, directed the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID -19 to urgently procure personal protective equipments (PPEs) for distribution to hospitals.

Asking the PTF to also use the House of Representatives contribution to procure PPE for distribution to public hospital in order to protect our healthcare providers, the lawmakers directed the FCTA, Federal Ministry of Finance and IPPIS to rectify all anomalies associated with payments of FCT healthcare providers and ensure payment of the accumulated salaries with immediate effect.

Commending the FCT healthcare providers, the lawmakers urged them to further continue with their commendable sacrifices as the House continue to intervene.

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