EU To Invest €18m In Vaccine Research In Nigeria

The European Union (EU) has announced an investment of €18 million to fund vaccine research in Nigeria.

The Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Amb. Samuela Isopi, disclosed this in Abuja at the presentation of the National Plan for Vaccine Research and Development and Local Production 2024-2034.

The plan, developed by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) with support from the EU and the Bulgarian Government, was unveiled recently.

Isopi, represented by Prof. Leila Mathieu, stated that the EU’s alignment with Nigeria’s priorities is evident in this initiative.

She stressed the timeliness of the plan’s development and its alignment with national priorities.

Isopi said that discussions are ongoing at the highest levels with the EU to explore further aspects of the plan.

She said, “When we do a plan, we have to put money in research, but then manufacturing must follow.

“So, we are going to invest 18 million euros in research in vaccines in Nigeria with full grants to some public research institutions and other implementing partners.”

According to her, the EU’s investment aims to enhance research in vaccines with grants provided to public research institutions and other implementing partners.

She further added that the EU is working closely with Bulgaria on the initiative, which is part of a larger Team Europe initiative with Africa for vaccine manufacturing.

“We will be working closely with your ministry and of course your public institutions on that and we will be working closely also in a Team Europe spirit with Bulgaria.

“Manufacturing of vaccines is a Team Europe initiative with Africa on a continental level so we have other partners at African level.

“I also heard from the minister that you were aiming at having a biomedical institute in the capital and that’s also something we could look into and link to research but probably also research on vaccines as well.”

Ambassador Yanko Yordanov of Bulgaria spoke about his ambition to strengthen the partnership with Nigeria in the health sector, viewing it as an investment in global health.

He assured Bulgaria’s commitment to the project, including providing funding and expertise in vaccine research and development.

“The national plan is the first step; the implementation is what matters and Bulgaria is more than willing to be part of this implementation, both as a partner who provides funding, but also with our own national expert base.

“So in Bulgaria, you can count on a vast array of experts in terms of research, development and implementation of vaccines.

“I can reassure you that what we are aiming to do is definitely a sustainable, long term partnership that will transcend throughout the years,” he said, adding that “the EU is a generous organisation to Africa, and had taken note of Nigeria’s request for more funding and will do what is appropriate in that regard.”

Earlier, the Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Tunji Alausa, expressed his gratitude to the EU and Bulgaria for their support.

He stressed the urgency of local vaccine production in Nigeria, where currently less than one percent of vaccines used are produced domestically.

“This national plan covers the entire ecosystem of what we need to do with domesticating our vaccine production.

“This is a document that will be used nationally, NIPRD has taken the lead on this and it will be used as a template into actualising the end.

“The frontal part is done, now let’s go to the operationalisation part and I thank you for the Bulgarian commitment to now support in partnering with us into the next phase.

“We want the Bulgarian Government to use its influence in the EU to look at us as a big population to get the subsequent research grant support that we need,” he added.

The NIPRD Director-General, Dr. Obi Adigwe, emphasized that the document’s presentation marks a significant step toward initiating local vaccine production in Nigeria.

He noted the importance of local manufacturing for enhancing access to vaccines and public health outcomes, as well as fostering innovation, capacity building, and socio-economic development.

He said, “The need to develop local capacity for pharmaceutical manufacturing became more prominent.

“As you all are aware, access to vaccines is key towards achieving Universal Health Coverage because vaccines can also prevent the financial burden of treating diseases and save the citizenry from high medical costs.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 10-year plan outlines strategies for promoting vaccine research and development, reducing vaccine hesitancy, improving vaccine access, and shifting towards local production in both public and private health sectors.

(NAN)

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