BVNL partners South Africa’s Biovac to strengthen vaccine initiative for Africa
Swift from the recent inauguration of the Board of Biovaccines Nigeria Limited (BVNL) last month, the BVNL has “hit the ground running”. The BVNL team paid a working visit to, the Biovac Institute (BIOVAC), Cape Town, South Africa recently for a two-day learning exchange.
The Chief Executive Officer of BIOVAC, Dr Morena Makhoana who received their Nigerian counterparts enthused that, “BIOVAC is keen on the initiative to work in furtherance of the specific collaborative avenues towards vaccine security and capacity building in Africa.”
Dr Makhoana hosted the BVNL delegation together with Mr. Patrick Tippoo, head of department, Science & Innovation; Dr Denice Smit, chief quality officer as well as Dr Dierk Rebeski who serves as chief operations officer.
The BVNL travelling contingents include Dr Dorothy Nwodo, director, Disease Control & Immunization who represented Dr Faisal Shuaib, one of the newly inducted directors BVNL. The other BVNL director on the team is Mr. Nnamdi Okafor, director BVNL and managing Director/CEO May & Baker Nigeria PLC); Technical Advisor BVNL, Syed Ahmed while Project Manager BVNL, Everest Okeakpu, completed the team.
Upon arrival, Nnamdi Okafor introduced team BVNL and stated the objectives of the visit. “We are here principally to immerse ourselves with the pragmatics of the operational intricacies which pertains vaccine manufacturing and to explore the possibility of synergy towards building capacity for vaccine manufacturing in Africa, so as to strengthen the Africa Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative (AVMI).”
Both BIOVAC and BVNL share institutional and operational similarities in many respects. For instance, the BVNL is government and private sector joint venture agreement (JVA) in Nigeria between the federal government (49%) and Nigeria’s foremost pharmaceutical company, May & Baker Nigeria Plc (51%).
The partnership comprises a seven member Board with three members from the government and four from May & Baker, including the MD/CEO who must be an expert in this field.
Accordingly, the BIOVAC was established in 2003 as a public private partnership (PPP) between the Biovac Consortium and the South African government. Whilst ensuring continuity of supply of paediatric vaccines to the Department of Health of South Africa, Biovac has been working hard at building vaccine-manufacturing capacity in South Africa.
This work has culminated in a recently awarded manufacturing license. Biovac has gone a step further recently by entering full-scale product development of a novel vaccine in partnership with international partners Instructively, Africa manufactures only about less than 1% of the total vaccines used in Africa.