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Reps canvass speedy production of local vaccines, probe research on COVID-19

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The House of Representatives has advocated speedy production of local vaccines to contain the coronavirus pandemic, urging the authorities to ensure the protection and payment of outstanding salaries of healthcare personnel, who are in the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight.

Adopting a motion by Chike Okafor (APC Imo) at plenary presided by Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila yesterday, it mandated its committees on Healthcare Services, Health Institutions and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria to invite Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire to branstorm on possible ways of getting legislative support to facilitate production of vaccines in Nigeria.

Others to be invited are, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Executive Director, May and Baker Nigeria PLC to brief the committees and deliberate extensively on the issue.

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The committee would report within four weeks for further legislative action.

Moving the motion, Okafor argued that successful production of local vaccines would help the NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health to effectively tackle outbreak of diseases like Gastroenteritis in Lagos which claimed several lives and the COVID-19.

The lawmaker stressed that local vaccines production would not only save the country huge resources from importations, but would also guarantee availability of vaccines during routine immunisation and exports to other African countries, thereby cutting down the cost of vaccines in Nigeria.

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He noted that the Yaba Vaccine Production Laboratory in Lagos was active in vaccines 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.

While adopting the motion sponsored by Dr. Yusuf Tanko Sununu and four others on the safety of health personnel, the House directed the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to urgently procure personal protective equipment (PPEs) for distribution to hospitals.

In a similar vein, the House ordered immediate probe into the status of local medical and pharmaceutical researches in the fight against coronavirus pandemic and other diseases.

The resolutions followed a motion by the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu during plenary in which it mandated the Ad-hoc Committee to review NCDC’s operations for a local approach in the war against COVID-19 and other diseases.

Presenting the motion, Okechukwu, stated that of about 4,911,720 confirmed coronavirus cases globally, Nigeria has recorded over 6,000 confirmed cases and 191 deaths as at Tuesday, May 19, 2020 (yesterday).

He lamented that whereas efforts were ongoing by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and some countries to curtail the diseases, with Madagascar already promoting a cure for COVID-19, Nigeria was not yet looking inwards for home-grown solutions.

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