The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, on Thursday, said the Federal Government was working hard to equip the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control through the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund in preparation for the future pandemic.
Mamora said this at a virtual conference on ‘Nigeria and the next pandemic: Preparedness, response and vaccines’ organised by The Conversation Africa.
The minister said, “The NCDC will have access to 2.5 per cent of the five per cent of the funds earmarked for health emergencies.
“We were not as prepared as we would have loved to at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the resources we had were based on previous investment in health security by the NCDC.
“We are seeking this opportunity, this moment of disruption, to build more sustainable and resilient systems for health security in Nigeria.”
Mamora said although it was difficult to prepare for future pandemics while still in the midst of one, the World Health Organisation estimate, which states that the world faces a threat of pandemics every five years, was enough reason to prepare.
He said vaccine manufacturing was one of the key areas of preparing for future pandemics, adding that the country had leveraged on COVID-19 to strengthen its health facilities.
Mamora added that Nigeria had learnt a lot of lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and it would prepare the country for future pandemics.
The minister stated that Nigeria was focusing on vaccine development to cater to the shortage of vaccines in the country.
He said “Bio-Vaccine Nigeria Limited, a joint venture between the Nigerian government and a private firm, is working on manufacturing vaccines for the country.
“We have every need to do that in light of what is happening in the global stage. Right now, a lot of countries in Africa and even Nigeria can’t have access to vaccines.
“We can only hope to get over that or we have our own manufacturing hub in Nigeria, and that is what we are working towards achieving.
“As many are aware, the world is facing inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, with Africa bearing the brunt of it. While countries in Europe and America are fully vaccinated with as high as 50 per cent of their population in less than one year, African countries are still around one per cent and faced with a scarcity of vaccines.”
Mamora noted that the pandemic had created a sense of urgency around vaccine development and manufacturing in the African region.
“In Nigeria, we have taken this opportunity to fully establish our capacity for vaccine manufacturing. We have been working closely with Bio-Vaccines Nigeria Limited,” he added.
Earlier, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, said Nigeria would get 3.92 million doses of Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccines this month or in August.