vaccine patent waiver

THE ROLE OF VACCINE PATENT WAIVER, COMPULSORY LICENSING IN LOCAL VACCINES PRODUCTION

An interview with Barrister Davidson Oturu

The COVID-19 pandemic is one major global health challenge that cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

When COVID-19 broke in 2019, not many could foresee the amount of disruption it will cause globally.

The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of the world’s health system, both the rich and the low income countries were almost brought to their knees.

Read: Dr. Sunday Adigwe Give Reasons why Nigeria Should be Self Sustaining in Medicines and Vaccines

However, with the development of vaccines, comes another challenge for low income countries especially in Africa; that’s the challenge of equal access to the vaccines.

Read: FG Gives Reasons for Local Production of Vaccines

Even if the world should forget the lessons from COVID-19, Africa cannot afford to forget the bitter lesson of the consequences of overdependence on the west for her vaccines and other forms of medicines.
Africa must learn to be self sufficient, produce vaccines on its own soil to protect its people.

Health TV interview with Barrister Davidson Oturu, Partner Aelex

In this special interview with barrister Davidson Oturu, he shares his expert views on how patent waver or compulsory licensing can help countries mass produce vaccines and other forms of pharmaceuticals during emergencies such as COVID-19.

Read: The WTO approves Vaccine Patent Waiver

COVID-19..

COVID-19 increased nearly 30% In past two weeks- WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the global reported cases of COVID-19 have increased by nearly 30 per cent over the past two weeks.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said this on Wednesday during an online COVID-19 media briefing.

Ghebreyesus said that four out of six of the WHO sub-regions saw cases increasing in the last week.

According to him, compounding the challenge are a number of factors.

Ghebreyesus said the first was that testing has reduced dramatically in many countries.

Read Also: No African country is experiencing COVID-19 resurgence says WHO

Second, new treatments, especially promising new oral antivirals, are still not reaching low and low-middle income countries, depriving whole populations that need them.

“Third, as the virus evolves, vaccines protection while still really effective at preventing serious disease and death does wane.

According to Ghebreyesus, it obviously impacts individuals and their families but it also puts an extra burden on health systems, the wider economy and society-at-large.

He said the challenges required action at a global, national and local level.

He said that governments, scientists, manufacturers, WHO and citizens themselves all have their part to play.

NIPRD

NIPRD DG, Dr. Obi Adigwe says NIPRD is open to Pan-African collaborations

The Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Adigwe says the Institute remains committed to ensuring that African pharmaceutical products compete effectively with products from Asia, Europe and America.

Dr. Obi stated this in Abuja during a collaborative and advocacy visit by the Coordinator of the Africa Health Budget Network, (AHBN) to NIPRD’s headquarters.

He noted that following support from government, the Institute has embarked on aggressive training of members of staff and to build their capacities, as well as equipping laboratories to world class standards.

Recall that at the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic there was an inflow of financial support both locally and from international organizations to Nigeria’s health sector to help strengthen capacity to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The Federal Government of Nigeria had budgeted and released 500 billion naira to various sectors of the economy including the health care sector which was considered the worst hit by the pandemic.

NIPRD is one of such health institutions that received this support, and a visit to its facility located at Idu area of the Federal Capital Territory reveals a drastic change from its former look, as the entire building has gotten a facelift while several equipment have been purchased or donated by partners to strengthen the medical and plant research and traditional medicine research (MPR&TC) laboratories, medicinal chemistry and quality control (MCQC) laboratories, pharmacology and toxicology (P&T) laboratories, pharmaceutical technology and raw materials development laboratories, DNA Sequencing among others.

The DG Dr. Obi Adigwe stated that his team at NIPRD is open to pan-African collaborative efforts that will yield products that can withstand competition anywhere in the world.

He listed several contributions and innovations by the Institute which were very helpful in the fight against COVID-19 transmission and management of the disease, both locally and internationally.

While underscoring the role of funding in the actualization of this dream, Obi who listed some grants NIPRD recently received from partners, appealed to AHBN to use its vast partnership to further strengthen grant opportunities for the Institute.

“Anyone who has been for the health sector in the last three years, will know that we here at NIPRD are amongst the most collaborative agencies of our kind and we always prioritise partnerships especially with like-minded organisations. That is organisations who focus on building partnerships within Africa so that we can build the capacity to expedite the harnessing of our resources to solve our peoples problems. And I am very happy that AHBN based, on preliminary analysis done by my office, falls squarely within such oranisations.

Read Also: NIPRD DG Give Reasons why Nigeria Should be Self Sustaining in Medicines and Vaccines

“You may also be pleased to know that AHBN is in good company because in the past three years, we have partnered with other agencies of your type and we have moved the partnerships from paper proposals to a situation where we now have tangible products and grants to justify the partnership.

“It is on record that we are the first of our kind to secure funding from Afreximbank of a better part of 1million dollars for the setup of the API concept production lab and training facility. That particular facility once the grant gets to maturity level will be used to begin to produce lifesaving APIs as well as train scientists across and practitioners Africa on how to develop and how to stimulate the growth of the API sector in our economy.

“Similarly, NIPRD was also the first of its kind to secure a quarter of a billion naira grant from TETFund as the lead of a consortium of three other organisations which focuses on the development of interventions. We are also at the various stages of grants with various bodies.

“We are also part of a consortium for the (sifocan) trial which is a grant to the tune of about 1.1 or 1.2 billion dollars alongside three other collaborators. We are looking at the efficacy and viability of factional dosing of COVID-19 vaccines.”

“I am reeling out these grants and the figures so that AHBN can know that they are in good company when they are talking to those big international partners they can be referencing those organisations I have mentioned. And again, we are working for WAHO which has also designated NIPRD as one of its Centres of Excellence in the sub region. We have several more between 6 and ten grants that we are currently engaging on.”

Responding, Coordinator of AHBN, Dr. Aminu Magashi applauded the innovations being put in place by the institute, revealing that NIPRD was one of the organisations whose activities are being tracked by the AHBN.

Magashi pledged that the AHBN will analyse and amplify the work done by NIPRD for wider visibility and attract both local and international funding.

“One of the biggest aims for coming here is to listen and learn from government agencies and also amplify the good things they are doing to a larger audience. As you rightly mentioned even though we are in Nigeria we need to spread the message to Africa because Nigeria being with over 200 million of population that is almost one fifth of the African population it means we have to spread the story.

“A lot of African institutions are emerging, the Afreximbank, African Development Bank, we have a lot of COVID-19 mechanisms. Kadijah is doing a lot that work in the AHBN which is to monitor the African Institutions that help us to do advocacy, so for example the Africa Medicine Agency, (AMA) which is part of the AU, the Africa Manufacturing Coalition and Networks.

“Just recently we organized a Webinar to look at the vaccine procurement and delivery in Africa. So these are some of the things we are doing to promote the mindset that Africa is ready to produce our drugs and also our vaccines. And that we should not be carried away by always getting donations. We should be employers of labour in producing.

“One tweet from us, we can tag the handle of all those African agencies including Africa-CDC, African Union Commission, the AU and all the agencies including WAHO. So these are the areas we are committed to work and develop some bullet points on how we can support NIPRD at the Africa level and also Nigeria as well.”

Remarks were made about the role of the late Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammad Barkindo who was described as a great supporter of NIPRD’s policy to diversify Nigeria’s Oil and gas sector to focus more on petrochemicals which are precursors to Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, (APIs).

Child poverty

Multidimensional Child Poverty: 54% of Nigerian children face nutrition, healthcare, education, water, sanitation, among other deprivations

The Multidimensional Child Poverty Analysis using Multidimensional Overlapping Deprivation Analysis approach has revealed that approximately 54% of children in Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor, by facing at least three deprivations across seven dimensions of child rights including nutrition, healthcare, education, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and information – a statement from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed.

The Situation Analysis indicates that child poverty rate is highest among children aged 16– 17 years and least among children aged 0–5 years, noting that children are most affected by poverty because they are vulnerable, and that poverty has long-term impacts on the well-being of children, even into adulthood.

According to the statement, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo today launched three reports: “The Situation Analysis of Children in Nigeria, the Multidimensional Child Poverty Analysis in Nigeria and Monetary Child Poverty in Nigeria prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in collaboration with UNICEF.

Read: Did you know that child marriage fuels insecurity and poor health indices in Nigeria?

It was explained that multidimensional poverty in children is more prevalent in rural settings with 65.7 %, than urban areas with 28.4 %; meanwhile there are also high state disparities ranging from 14.5 % in Lagos to 81.5 % in Sokoto.

The monetary child poverty report showed that 47.4 % of children face monetary poverty by living in households with expenditure less than 376 naira five kobo a day being the national poverty line; as Slight differences are observed between boys placed at 47.98 % and girls at 46.8 %, while there are also high geographical and state disparities from 6.5% in Lagos to 91.4% in Sokoto.

The report further posited that 24.56% of children i Nigeria, face extreme poverty by living in households that spend less than 1.90 dollars a day.

The analysis indicated that the country would need as roughly as 1 trillion naira to lift children out of poverty.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said that data is critical for effective budgeting and decision making – and that the data from the surveys together paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria.

He said Nigeria has a long way to go towards ensuring the well-being of children and families in Nigeria, with persistent multi-dimensional poverty being a crucial obstacle.

Hawkins also said an analysis of the reports indicates the need for improved social protection measures to ensure that children are protected from risks, along with an expansion of access to much-needed social services.

“Data is critical for effective budgeting and decision making – and the data from these surveys together paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria.

“We still have a long way to go towards ensuring the well-being of children and families in Nigeria, with persistent multi-dimensional poverty being a crucial obstacle. The findings of these reports will help guide the federal and state governments as they plan their budgets – providing evidence for where more funds need to be allocated and wisely spent.”

blood donation

FG Set to Build Database to Regulate Supplies of Blood

The Federal government says it is set to build a comprehensive national database of blood establishments across various levels of government in the country in order to regulate, coordinate, and ensure the safe, quality, and affordable supplies of blood and blood products to all who needs it.

The Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed this on Thursday at a one day sensitisation to share the mandate of the National Blood Service Commission (NBSC) in Abuja.

The Minister said an efficient health sector requires a national blood system that is fully integrated into the health-care system.

Represented by the Technical Assistant to the Minister, Dr. Chris Isokponwa, he said the import of this initiative is that a nationwide blood supply can be mobilised at any time of critical need speedily, effectively, and efficiently to save the lives of Nigerians.

He said the universal data availability on blood services in Nigeria will aid in the attraction of domestic investment in the safe blood value-chain from vein to vein.

Read: CUCUMBER AND MEN’S SEXUAL HEALTH BENEFITS

He also said enormous opportunities reside for investments in the systems for well-regulated and coordinated blood collection, screening, storage, and distribution processes, and it is this enabling ecosystem that NBSC is strategically positioned to drive.

In addition, he said all critical activities within a national blood system should be coordinated centrally at the national level to promote uniform standards, economies of scale, consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products and best transfusion practices.

On his part, the Acting Director General of the NBSC, Dr. Omale Amedu while speaking with newsmen, said there is high deficit of blood in the database at the moment and as such Nigerians needs to be educated on the need to donate blood to save lives.

He said, having a population of over 200 million Nigerians we are expected to as a country have a minimum of 2million units of blood per annum but we however have 25 thousand save units on record.

He reeled out the health benefits of blood donations stating that when Nigerians donate blood they are revitalising their own system because as they donate the old blood, new blood cells are formed.

Dr. Amedu however debunk news of blood being sold noting that what ever money is collected, is for the preservation and sustenance of blood.

The Head Planning/Research and Statistics of the NBSC Dr. Adaeze Oreh in her remark, said every country should put in place policies, a legislative framework, systems, and structures to ensure the safety, quality, accessibility, and timely availability of blood and blood products to meet the needs of all patients who require transfusion.

The National Blood Service Commission Act of 2021 was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2021as part of the initiative of the administration towards provision of quality health care for Nigerians.

wild poliovirus

Mozambique declares outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1

Health authorities in Mozambique have declared an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 after confirming that a child in the country’s north-eastern Tete province had contracted the disease.

A statement from the World Health Organisation, (WHO), Africa Regional Office in Brazzaville stated that the case marks the second imported case of wild poliovirus in southern Africa this year, following an outbreak in Malawi in mid-February.

“So far, one case in Mozambique – the country’s first since 1992 – has been detected. The virus was found in a child who began experiencing onset of paralysis in late March. Genomic sequencing analysis indicates that the newly confirmed case is linked to a strain that had been circulating in Pakistan in 2019, similar to the case reported in Malawi earlier this year.

Read: Poliovirus: Malawi declares wild poliovirus outbreak

“The case in Mozambique and the earlier one in Malawi do not affect Africa’s wild poliovirus-free certification because the virus strain is not indigenous. Africa was declared free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020 after eliminating all forms of wild polio from the region,” the statement read in part.

World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti was quoted as saying that “The detection of another case of wild polio virus in Africa is greatly concerning, even if it’s unsurprising given the recent outbreak in Malawi. However, it shows how dangerous this virus is and how quickly it can spread

“We are supporting southern African governments to step up the polio fight including carrying out large-scale, effective vaccination campaigns to halt the virus and protect children from its damaging impact.”

It was also explained that further investigations were underway in Mozambique to determine the extent of the risk posed by the new wild poliovirus case and the targeted responses needed; but preliminary analysis of samples collected from three contacts of the newly-detected case were all negative for wild poliovirus type 1.

According to the statement, Mozambique recently carried out two mass vaccination campaigns – in response to the Malawi outbreak – in which 4.2 million children were vaccinated against the disease.

“Efforts are currently underway to help strengthen disease surveillance in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The five countries will continue with mass vaccinations, with plans to reach 23 million children aged five years and below with the polio vaccine in the coming weeks.

“Globally, wild poliovirus is endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Polio is highly infectious and largely affects children younger than five years. There is no cure for polio, and it can only be prevented by immunization.

“Children across the world remain at risk of wild polio type 1 as long as the virus is not eradicated in the last remaining areas in which it is still circulating.”

mlscn

MLSCN inducts 339 foreign graduate medical laboratory scientists

The Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Medical Laboratory Council of Nigeria, MLSCN, Dr. Tosan Erhabor says the Council remains committed to tackling the challenge of misdiagnosis in patient care in Nigeria.

Dr. Erhabor who stated this at the 7th Induction Ceremony of foreign graduates of Medical Laboratory Science, explained that the Council has constantly upgraded its curriculum for graduates undergoing training for induction to certify their skills and expertise.

As the mother body that regulates the practice of Medical Laboratory practice in Nigeria, the MLSCN has a duty to ensure adherence to the code of ethics by professionals.

The Registrar of MLSCN, Dr. Tohsan Erhabor spoke some steps taken over the years to strength the skills and expertise of medical laboratory practitioners in Nigeria.

“I commend the heads of department and heads of unit for their innovativeness in conducting inductees through the period of their training.

Read: FG Set Deadline for Accreditation of all Medical Laboratories in Nigeria

“The Medical Laboratory Council of Nigeria is continually committed to the growth and development of the practice of medical laboratory science in Nigeria.

“I will like to inform you that you will be the first set to go through internship training before going for national service. You are part of the strategic plan of the Council and you are the future of the profession.

“This set is best we have gotten so far. As I said, we started with six months not coordinated, we started with seven and the last one we did seven months we had about sixty per cent. I am proud, with these twelve months that they stayed we have not less than eighty per cent of the people that took the exams coming out successful and this is the best we have gotten. So, this can now attest to us that the twelve months we have given unto them to be exposed to the Nigerian system is working.”

Respect for constituted authority, regard for colleagues and other medical professionals, regular upgrade of knowledge and skills, integrity, transparency, delivery of quality and timely services are vital principals the medical laboratory professionals must imbibe.

These were the emphases of the induction lecturer, Dr. Osaretin Agbolahor who warned sternly inductees against any acts of indiscipline.

“Adherence to medical laboratory practice in Nigeria is a necessity which is non-negotiable. The general ethical principles are applied for the best interest of the patient and the patient’s welfare is chiefly important.

“Then as a medical scientist, professionally you are expected to carry out your investigations both are the pre-analytical phase – when you will be collecting your samples; and the analytical phase – when you are carrying out investigations on the sample that you have collected; and the post-analytical phase when you are doing a report of the investigation that you have conducted, you are expected to make sure that there is internal quality control.”

Inductees were also advised to show patriotism by joining hands to build the Nigerian Medical Sector, rather than run to foreign countries in search systems that others have built.

Malaria

World Bank loans Nigeria 300 million dollars to fight malaria

The Federal Government has assessed a Credit Facility to the tone of 300 million dollars to support the malaria elimination programme in 13 states of the federation.

This was revealed by the Coordinator of the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), Perpetua Uhomobhi at the second April ministerial bi-monthly media briefing on COVID-19 and the health sector organized by the Africa Health Budget Network, (AHBN).

Read: National Population Policy: AHBN commits to support implementation and accountability framework development

Speaking during the briefing which was presided over by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Mrs. Uhomobhi explained that the Facility was in two parts, with the World Bank Credit put at 200 million dollars, while that of the Islamic Bank was 100 million dollars.

She also said as directed by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, the ministry has set up an End Malaria Counsel – to be chaired by the founder of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote – in line with the recommendation of the  African Malaria Leaders Alliance mandate for high burden malaria countries.

“The President himself has directed that in line with the Africa Malaria leaders alliance mandate for high malaria burden countries that we set up an End Malaria Council in Nigeria, we have set up the Council and we have approached the Founder of the Dangote Foundation, who is also global malaria Ambassador and he has agreed to Chair the Council which is comprised of several eminent Nigerians.

“Nigeria has also assessed a World Bank Credit Facility, a loan to support the eleven plus two additional states that before now didn’t have any external donor support for malaria programme implementation across all interventions.”

Read: USAID applauds nurses, midwives others in malaria fight

Also speaking at the briefing, the Director of Ports Health, Dr. Geoffrey Okatubo explained that vigilance at various entry points across the country have been heightened following the resurgence of the COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai China.

Okatubo also spoke on the measures adopted to ensure safety of Nigerian pilgrims who are visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Lesser Hajj.

“The Federal Government recently opened four land borders in the country and these are Idiroko in Ogun state, Kamba in Kebbi, Ikom in Cross River and Jibia in Katsina state Port Health Services workers have been deployed to screen passengers who come in through these land borders including the four others had earlier been reopened.

“The Federal Ministry of Health has swung into action to ensure that the ministry collaborates with the National Hajj Commission to meet up with all necessary guidelines and requirements as outlined by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to ensure that all our pilgrims are safe while embarking on this religious obligation.” It was also explained that Nigeria has just completed the required World Health Organisation (WHO) training for the local vaccine production and that all was on course towards realizing the plan for local vaccine manufacturing in the country.

Vaccine preventable diseases

WHO raises alarm over surge in vaccine preventable diseases in Africa

The World Health Organisation, (WHO) says Africa is witnessing a surge in outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in Africa over the past year.

A statement from the United Nations agency, states that almost 17 500 cases of measles were recorded in the African region between January and March 2022, marking a 400% increase compared with the same period in 2021.

It further stated that twenty African countries reported measles outbreaks in the first quarter of this year, eight more than the first three months of 2021.

According to the statement, outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases have also become more common; twenty-four countries confirmed outbreaks of a variant of polio in 2021, which is four more than in 2020; in 2021, 13 countries reported new yellow fever outbreaks in the African region, compared to nine in 2020 and three in 2019.

Inequalities in accessing vaccines, disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic including a huge strain on health system capacities were among factors identified to have impaired routine immunization services in many African countries and forced the suspension of vaccination drives.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti was quoted as saying that “The rise in outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases is a warning sign. As Africa works hard to defeat COVID-19, we must not forget other health threats. Health systems could be severely strained not only by COVID-19 but by other diseases.

“Vaccines are at the heart of a successful public health response, and as countries restore services, routine immunization must be at the core of revived and resilient health systems.”

It was also stressed that two doses of the measles vaccine provided on schedule results in long lasting protection against the potentially deadly disease and that countries were expected to attain and maintain measles vaccination coverage of 95% with two doses to reach measles elimination.

Reference was also made to 2019 where six countries in the African region attained 95% coverage with first dose measles vaccination, while only three met this target in 2020, according to estimates by WHO and UNICEF.

“To urgently scale up coverage and protect children, WHO and partners are supporting African countries to carry out catch-up routine vaccination campaigns, with more than 90% of the 38 African countries responding to a global survey reporting that they implemented at least one routine catch-up immunization campaign in the second half of 2021.

“Some countries have successfully integrated other critical immunization campaigns with COVID-19 vaccination. For example, Ghana integrated COVID-19 vaccination with yellow fever campaigns in December 2021 to curb an outbreak that erupted a month earlier. Nigeria recently launched a vaccine scale-up strategy which guides the integration of routine immunization with COVID-19 vaccination for mothers and their babies.

Mass vaccination campaigns are also boosting COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Between January and April, the percentage of Africans fully vaccinated against the virus rose to 17.1% from 11.1%.

The Director, Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Benido Impouma said “Routine immunization, a long-established practice in many African countries, has been severely strained by the impact of COVID-19. In the wake of this pandemic, we are committed to supporting countries devise smart approaches to scale up both COVID-19 vaccination and restore and expand routine immunization services.”

nurses and midwives

Regulate the migration of nurses and midwives: Association tells Nigeria’s health ministry

The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives has called on the Federal Ministry of Health to regulate the migration of nurses and midwives to reduce brain drain which it said is impacting negatively on the Nigeria Health Sector.

The National President of the Association Comrade Nnachi Michael Ekuma made the call on Friday at a press conference to herald the 2022 International Nurse week celebration and Scientific Conference.

According to him, despite the commitment and sacrifices demonstrated by nurses and Midwives, they are yet to be adequately compensated, recognised, valued and respected so as to be given the pride of place in the society.

He further decried the shortage of nurses which he said is due to the mass migration for desirable compensation and reward for service delivery, lack of decent work environment, poor staff renumeration and brain drain, no welfare packages amongst others.

He therefore called on the government to invest in nursing workforce and consider special salary package for nurses and midwives to address brain drain

On her part, the second Vice President of the Association Comrade Israel Blessing said there is shortage of nine hundred thousand (900,000) Midwives globally noting that this has made life difficult.

According to statistics, she said about a million of newborn die after birth while 2.6 million cases are still birth due to what she said are preventable causes.

Read: Address Brain Drain in the Health Sector NMA Urges FG

She further said in order to reduce or eliminate occurrence of these cases, there is need to increase the awareness of the roles of nurses and Midwives in the society.

She also called on the government to Foster the morale of Midwives through appropriate funding, functional equipment and effective remuneration.

The international day for the celebration of nurses and midwives is celebrated between May 6 to 12 of every year to mark the birthday anniversary of the founder of modern nursing Lady Florence Nightingale who was born of the 12th of May1820 and died on August 13th 1910.