The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched the first edition of the Nigerian vaccine policy. The purpose of the vaccine is to ensure that all Nigerians get vaccinated against infections. Punch reports that Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, mentioned this in Abuja during the launching ceremony of the 3rd edition of the National Drug Policy.
Dr. Ehanire stated that vaccines are biological products and they can be used to safely induce immune responses. He also pointed out that they were the most cost-effective interventions in public health. He further stated that vaccines have created a significant impact on the reduction of diseases globally.
He noted that Nigeria was one of the developing countries which was currently facing a “double burden of diseases.” This means that Nigeria is facing a high prevalence of communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases. According to him, the United Nations has used forecasts to estimate that the Nigerian population could reach 206 million by 2020 and 264 million by 2030. These forecasts also estimate that Nigeria’s population could surpass the 300 million mark by 2036. Dr. Ehanire pointed out that this increase in population would only lead to an increase in the need for vaccines.
“It will interest you to know that the government and GAVI re-negotiated the co-financing arrangement for vaccines with a view to ensuring a smooth transition to full country ownership. This led to the signing of the Nigeria Strategy for Immunisation and PHC System Strengthening the Nigeria Strategy for Routine Immunisation and Primary Health Care Systems Strengthening (NSIPSS) between the government and GAVI.” He stated.
He noted that the NSIPSS was serving as a basis for the extension of GAVI support to 2028. He mentioned that an Accountability Framework (AF) had been developed to guide the implementation of the NSIPSS. He also stated that the most salient aspect of the AF was that the Government would have to provide incremental funds from budgetary sources on a yearly basis. These funds would culminate in 100% funding for the vaccine procurement by 2028.
Dr. Ehanire noted that the Government was taking some steps towards boosting the local manufacture of essential medicines. He explained that this would cause the local pharmaceutical industry to become a major actor in providing good quality essential medicines for Nigeria’s health care programme.
The first edition of the program was in 1990 and the 2nd edition took place in 2005. However, most of the expectations of that edition were unrealised because of a lack of political will by past governments. He also pointed out that another reason why the objectives were not achieved was due to the absence of a well-structured monitoring system. He noted that this revised edition had identified those gaps and covered them.
“The launching of this edition is against the backdrop of the overall Health Sector Reform (HSR) Programme of the ministry. No matter how vibrant a health policy, without the availability of good quality and affordable medicines, that policy will be sterile,’’ Ehanire said.” he noted.
He explained that the purpose of the drug policy was to ensure that the Nigerian populace had access to adequate supply of effective, affordable, and safe quality drugs at all times.