Lack of fund is crippling production of local vaccines in Nigeria

Dr David Shamaki

The National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom, Plateau State has said that lack of fund is the main factor crippling the production of local vaccines in the country.

A researcher in the Institute, who pleaded anonymity because he was not competent to talk on the issue, as the Executive Director of NVRI, Dr. David Shamaki, had travelled abroad told The Guardian that they have more than enough manpower to handle vaccine production equipment, but that they are financially handicapped.

“Are we going to spend our salaries to make sure the research goes successful? This is not possible. Even if we voluntarily forfeit our salaries for one month, where will it take us? It will just amount to a waste of financial resource because it will be just a tip of the iceberg, which is useless,” he said.

He explained that even the equipment bought by Prof. Lami Lombin, former Executive Director of NVRI from 2001 to 2010 to boost vaccine production, is still languishing in the Institute, as there is no money to install them. “They are in containers and are yet to be off loaded. And if care is not taken, they will just rot away,” he said. “Production in the institute is now at its lowest ebb. If the heavy equipment had been installed, the production level of local vaccine production would have risen from the present docile state. The NVRI is concerned mainly with animal vaccine. But what I have told you is what obtains in our tertiary research institutions in the country generally. Go anywhere in the country, and you will meet the same complaints.”

Former Director General of the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Lagos, Professor Innocent Ujah, told The Guardian that Nigeria does not lack capacity in that regard.

He said: “When it comes to training and retraining, we don’t lack experts. What we lack as a country is commitment and high level and effective planning and implementation. Government does not show sufficient commitment in the whole process. Manpower is there that can train and retrain. We generally lack strategic focus.”

Ujah is now of the Gynaecology Department at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and a professor of medicine at the University of Jos.From NVRI, it is discovered that: “Livestock diseases in the tropics are responsible for 25 per cent of losses in animal production. Initially, surveys of diseases were carried out, based on clinical symptoms and postmortem lesions. But when laboratory facilities were available, Koch’s postulates could be proven by isolation, identification and transmission of causal agents of diseases. Until the development and production of vaccines, disease control was through strict quarantine. Priority was given to research leading to the development of sera, vaccines and drugs for the prevention of infectious disease.

“Trypanosomiasi was treated with intravenous injections of tartar emetic. The results were outstanding, as treated animals put on weight. Proprietary preparations in the form of Antrycide, Antrypol and Samorin, among others, were tried, as they came into the market. Extensive research was conducted and epidemiological surveys of diseases, immunological and serological studies of causal agents of infectious diseases of livestock and poultry were carried out.

“Dairy cattle from Europe and North America were successfully raised and 4,000 litres of milk per cow was obtained in 300 days of lactation. Cross breeding of Friesian bulls with Fulani cows was successfully tried and the hybrid heifers found to give 2,000 litres of milk per lactation.”



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