Nigeria is to begin mass production of HIV and AIDS drugs for use by member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchu Chukwu, has said.
Chukwu said this at the Africa-Korea partnership workshop on neglected tropical diseases on Monday, in Abuja.
He said Nigeria was given the approval by ECOWAS based on the decision taken by the West African Health Organisation.
The minister, who did not give details of the proposal, however, called on the Republic of Korea to exploit the opportunity to invest in the country.
“ For our Korea counterparts, please come and invest, invest, you will not regret it, the laws are there to protect you if you invest, and that is the collaboration we want to have with you.
“The country is large, but beyond this country, the ECOWAS ministers of health have taken a stand under the West African health organisation that for the whole of the ECOWAS sub-region that Nigeria should be the country that should be producing the drugs for HIV.
“The market is beyond what you have in Nigeria, you are talking of a population of almost 300 million people and that will also extend to the rest of Africa.
“West Africa has the bulk of the population in Africa, and so I want you to seize the opportunity of this new development’’
Chukwu said Nigeria government would intensify its collaboration with the Korea government to ensure better understanding in the area of research and development.
He said the high level burden of neglected diseases in Africa required the development of indigenous pharmaceutical and health innovation capacity to address the issues.
The minister emphasised the need to take science, technology, innovation and education serious to address every issue affecting all sectors.
The Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, John-Hyun CHIO, commended the workshop and urged that its outcome should impact future generation.
Chio said the Korea government was ready to share its experience with Nigeria so that the country could enjoy modern technology.
Dr Jong Guk SONG, President, Science and Technology Policy Institute, Korea, expressed the wiliness of the Korea government to help in the development of Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry.
Dr Tshinko Ilunga, Vice Chair of African Network for Drugs and Diagnostic (ANDI), said that the outcome of the workshop would strengthen Nigeria and Korea partnership in addressing neglected tropical diseases in the country.
The workshop is one of the results of 2010 discussion between the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostic (ANDI) and Institutions in Republic of Korea.
The discussion was to leverage the expertise and official development assistance of Korea to support innovation and public health in Africa.