What is the funding situation on vaccine production?Look at the total landscape of RIA (routine immunisation activities) in Nigeria in terms of funding. One thing is that government alone cannot continue to fund routine immunisation vaccine in this country. We agree with stakeholders that it is important that private sector contributes to vaccine finance so we can meet the total vaccine requirement, how much it takes to fund vaccine requirement in this country: between now and 2020, it will cost about $420 million. This year alone we will be spending about $150m to fund routine immunisation vaccines.As we introduce new vaccines—rotavirus, inactivated polio vaccine, vaccine for cervical cancer (human papilloma virus); last year we brought in pentavalent vaccine and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine—as part of immunisation plan. What it translates to is that it is getting more expensive to fully immunise a child in Nigeria, and there is nowhere in the world where government alone [pays for] immunisation of children. We are inviting the private sector to come on board through the Special Vaccine Funding Arrangement. Institutions will contribute to funding, and individuals will be encouraged to adopt children in their localities. This will go into a fund that will be transparently managed between government and the private sector.Is that an idea you are still mulling or have you actually met with the private sector groups on this?This meeting has conceived that idea and we are developing a strategy to make that happen. We constituted a team to develop the advocacy tool, strategy to make this happen. We believe in the next four weeks, we will bring out the concrete plan.How much of this gap can you expect the private sector to fill?The component of what the private sector will contribute will be determined by the time we engage the private sector, but government will continue to provide leadership. The reason we are bringing in the private sector is because the landscape is widening in terms of financial requirement for funding immunisation in Nigeria. The number of children we immunise annually is about 7.2 million and as we get to 2020 each year there is an increment of about 2.5% in terms of population. The new vaccines are very expensive. We are also working on the possibility of having malaria vaccine, which would become a candidate. Progress is also being made on ebola vaccine; as soon as WHO confirms that, it will also come onboard. It is getting very expensive to fully immunise a child.
What about local production of these vaccines?Government is looking at the local production of these vaccines. There is a joint-venture agreement with Bio Vaccine, which is an arm of May & Baker. Already the minister of health is leading that discussion, and as soon as it is finalized, Nigeria will commence local production of vaccine. It will create job, conserve our foreign reserve and bring in hard earned currency because the entity producing vaccines will also be servicing the West African sub-region.
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