Gov Sule woos global health giant, Gavi to establish vaccine factory in Nasarawa
Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has promised to donate a free land to Gavi, a public–private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunization, for the firm to establish a vaccine factory in the state.
Engineer Sule made the pledge when he hosted Gavi’s interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. David Marlow, who was led by the Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Professor Ali Pate, on a courtesy call at the Nasarawa Governor’s Lodge, in Abuja, Thursday.
While appreciating the global giant in health funding for its support and contribution to Nigeria and particularly Nasarawa State, the Governor said his administration is ready and willing to provide free land for Gavi, if the organization giant would establish its vaccine production company in Nasarawa State.
He used the opportunity of the visit to highlight competitive advantages in favour of Nasarawa State to include being at the centre of Nigeria making it accessible to every part of the country, access to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, as well as the Lafia Cargo Airport, and excellent road network.
“I am so happy that you mentioned the aspect of vaccine production in Nigeria. In Nasarawa we are ready, we are willing and we are leaning and indeed, we are providing the land for free. We are providing the land for free because we believe in it and we believe very strongly that if this comes to Nasarawa, you would have the desired market.
“Usually, again coming from the private sector coming from my background, you take your business to where you have the market for it. Nigeria with this huge population and Nasarawa being the centre of Nigeria, whatever we are producing will reach every part of the country.
“And we are very lucky we have two major airports to it, the Abuja International Airport and the cargo airport in Nasarawa. These are all the opportunities that we have. The road network are excellent. We have all these advantages in the state,” he stated.
Engineer Sule emphasized that Nasarawa State has all these advantages and have the people who are willing and motivated.
“Please, if you are selecting any state, Nasarawa State is willing and is ready to give the land free of charge. Most of these things that we are talking about are part and parcel of the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy,” he explained.
He particularly appreciated Gavi for coming to the rescue of Nigeria following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, stressing that, the outbreak of the pandemic brought out the weaknesses in the country’s health sector, which made the idea of establishing a vaccine production factory necessary.
“We want to sincerely thank you for your support and contribution to Nigeria when it came to that area of Covid-19. Nigeria got to realize its health sector weaknesses during the Covid era. That was the time it was blown directly in our face that we have not taken the health sector as serious as we could have done.
“When you mentioned vaccine production, we have done a lot of work in Nasarawa to ensure that we are part of it. I am so happy that you mentioned the aspect of vaccine production in Nigeria,” he added.
The Governor equally commended the Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Professor Ali Pate, for all the things he did globally, especially with what he did with the Bill Gates Foundation and the eradication of polio in the country.
He thanked the Gavi CEO for not only selecting Nigeria for his first visit but also Nasarawa State and Karu Local Government Area in particular.
In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, Mr. David Marlow, revealed that Gavi is focusing focusing on the broader African continent and have signed an MoU with the African Union and also working with Africa CDC to think about how to bring regional manufacturing to Africa.
“I will also want to recognize that we have been partners of Nigeria since 2002. And we would like to build on this very important partnership. It’s very insightful for me to really see on the ground what is really happening. Although we have made progress, I also see huge opportunities to continue the good work.
“And anything we can do in that regard to support your state, with broader Nigeria as a whole, we would be welcoming us back and we will work with you and other leaders of Nigeria to make this a success,” he said.
On his part, the Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Professor Ali Pate, said Nigeria would continue to count on support from Gavi.
“I will say Gavi is the largest fund in the global health arena. In the last three years, Gavi raised twenty billion dollars and have seven billion dollars in donations. So it is twenty-seven billion dollars. It’s quite significant in terms of global funds for health,” he said.
The Minister disclosed that in the last ten years alone, Gavi has invested 10 billion dollars in Nigeria in immunization programme.
He pointed out that there’s a lot that Gavi can do but a lot of it also, depends on the leadership that Engineer Sule is providing, which the Federal Government would continue to count on, in terms of resourcing the primary health care system, providing the operational funds so that the vaccines the frontline health workers are able to work with, regardless of difficulty of priotizing the health of the population.
Professor Pate explained that the political will by governors to fund the public health sector would yield significant dividends economically, politically and otherwise.
He added that the team’s visit to the Esu Karu, HRH Pharmacist Luka Panya Baba and Karu community, showed the alignment of what is happening at the state level, local government level and the community leaders.
While appreciating Gavi as a valuable partner, Prof Pate said for the organization to select Nigeria and Nasarawa State is a very special privilege, adding local manufacturing of vaccines is consistent with what President Bola Ahmed Tinubu also asked the ministry to unlock the market potentials of the health sector, to foster domestic manufacturing of some of the commodities so that Nigeria can retain some value chain and create jobs in the country.