Nigeria has expressed its willingness to collaborate with Cuba on the local production of COVID-19 vaccines.
Speaking at a meeting with the Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, Clara Paulido-Escandell, in Abuja, the Director of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Ngozi Azodoh, emphasised the need to ensure vaccine security and implement actions on technology transfer from Cuba to Nigeria.
Azodoh, who was one of the delegates who visited Cuba recently, acknowledged the country’s robust capabilities in vaccine production.
She said, “My experience in Cuba was challenging for me as a Nigerian, considering all the resources and the human capital and the natural resources that we have.
“We have read about Cuba and their vaccine prowess because for me, vaccines are a matter of national security and the issue that has happened with COVID-19 has underscored that knowledge that we always have. Going to Cuba is not about the knowledge we had but about seeing how that knowledge can be translated into action.
“We came back with an experience; that we must do things differently. If Cuba can do so much with so little, then we can do a lot more. We must feel seriously challenged by Cuba’s predicament and small population of just 11 million, which is about 5% of Nigeria.
“We must develop our local capacity in terms of our human resources, our factory, and our production. Our market must start from Nigeria.”
Pulido-Escandell, while speaking said she is convinced that Cuba’s achievements in research and biotechnology are for everyone in the world.
“What we have made is not only for Cubans but also for other people all over the world. We have a good relationship with Africa and Nigeria,” she said.
The Director of Registration and Regulatory Affairs at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Dr Monica Eimunjeze, who represented the NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, expressed “optimism about collaborating with Cuba on contract manufacturing, technology transfer, and vaccine production.
“We’re not so much interested in importing, we want to strengthen and build capacity within Nigeria and we feel that it’s the area we can work collaboratively with the regulators as well as the private sector to look at products that we can manufacture locally even if we start by bringing in products but the endgame is to transfer technology and build capacity within Nigeria so that we are able to produce and meet the needs of our country,” she said.