The battle against polio in Nigeria will be given a boost by an Indian vaccine maker.
India's vaccine manufacturer Panacea Biotec has joined Emzor Pharma of Nigeria to help the country fight the scourge of polio by launching Polprotec, a vaccine for the protection against the disease.
Nigeria is still grappling with the disease despite the global efforts to eradicate it.
"Our concerns in Nigeria have been raised because there have been some outbreaks of polio recently," Albert Uzoh, chief operating officer of Zolon Healthcare, part of Emzor, told IANS.
Uzoh said that Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries that are still battling the disease. India got its act together and has been able to record a zero presence of polio last year.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that following its Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched in 1988, polio cases were brought down.
"But global polio eradication is still not within reach. In 2009-10, 23 previously polio-free countries were re-infected due to importation of the polio virus, mainly from Nigeria."
Between July 2009 and March 2011, 434 cases of Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (VDPV) were detected globally.
Nigeria has reported largest number of the C-type VDPV cases in the world. Between 2000 and 2009, 14 outbreaks and more than 400 Vaccine-Associated Paralytic Poliomyelitis (VAPP) cases were reported.
Panacea Biotec and Emzor said Polprotec would help "to contribute towards achieving the goal of global polio eradication and to ensure that no child will ever again be paralyzed..."
Polprotec was launched by Pediatric Association of Nigeria president, Dorothy O. Esangbedo, who said: "This is the first time IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine) is launched in Nigeria and India has slowly moved out of PAIN (Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria)..."
Shafi Kolhapure of Panacea Biotec added that "the initiative of IPV along with OPV (Oral Polio Vaccines) will limit transmission..."
Group MD, Emzor Pharma, Stella Okoli said, partnership was important in the fight against polio eradication among Nigerian children and said: "We are very happy to be associated with Panacea Biotec Ltd for this noble cause to eradicate polio among Nigerian children. We are committed to eradicate polio from the world and we will ensure that no child will ever again be paralysed by Wild Polio Virus or Vaccine-derived Poliovirus."
Joint managing director of Panacea Biotec, Rajesh Jain, said: "Panacea Biotec is committed to contribute to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative of WHO. Panacea Biotec foresaw the need of IPV during the end game of polio eradication Programme long back and launched the vaccine in India in 2008. We are now taking this vaccine to other polio endemic countries."
Panacea Biotec is India's leading research-based health management company with established research, manufacturing and marketing capabilities. Panacea Biotec is the second largest vaccine producer in India. The company is also among the top 40 pharmaceutical companies in India.
(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at [email protected]