Acting Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Alex Akpa says there are plans underway to produce vaccines in Nigeria in partnership with the Cuban government.
Akpa disclosed this in an interview on the sidelines of the two-day GM Commodity Trade Consultative Forum in Abuja on Friday.
The Director-General, who said 100 per cent of the vaccines used in Nigeria were imported, added that the partnership would also cover the production of pharmaceuticals, including insulin and diagnostics.
“For quite some time we have been trying to partner with Cuba; in fact, before Cuba we had tried so many other countries, we had tried India and countries in Europe. It was not so easy.
“But sometime last year we paid a visit to Cuba, Havana and the delegation was led by the Honourable Minister and we had extensive meeting with our colleagues at the Cuba Institute of Biotechnology.
“At that meeting, I was able to convince them that it is in their interest to do business with Nigeria.
“One, because of our large population and Nigeria can serve as a base of which they can reach out to other West African countries with a total population of over 500 million and the can also get to other African countries.
“Of course in Nigeria, they will be able to test all those fine vaccines, and those pharmaceuticals, try them in a predominantly black population.
“Most of their trials so far have been done in a predominately white population that is another added reason.
“We know it works because we have used them even in Africa but we need to confirm scientifically and publish.
“So, all these made them see reason that it is in their interest to do business with us, carry out joint research with us and also jointly produce these products in Nigeria.
“Besides, Nigeria and Cuba have had many years of good friendly relationship.’’
He said there were plans to hold the first major stakeholders’ meeting in Nigeria before the end of the year after which the next might be held in Havana, Cuba.