Malaysia to Produce First 'Halal' Meningitis Vaccine

by Medindia Content Team on Oct 19 2007 7:35 PM

Malaysia said Thursday it plans to develop a "halal" meningitis vaccine jointly with Cuba within the next two years.

The 3.6 million ringgit (one million dollar) vaccine is aimed at the thousands of Muslims who are infected with the disease during the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, state news agency Bernama reported.

At present, most meningitis vaccines are produced from pig products, which are considered haram, or forbidden, by Muslims, it said.

Bernama said the halal vaccine is a joint project between Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and the Finlay Institute in Cuba.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia would provide 2.0 million ringgit for the project while Cuba would fund the remaining 1.6 million.

"This is a success for USM and the country's pride to see Malaysia realising its plan to produce the vaccine," he told Bernama.

Mustapa said 12 USM specialists and 30 Cuban experts would develop the vaccine from halal extracts of animals slaughtered according to Islamic tenets.

Malaysia is trying to position itself as a global hub for the halal industry, which it estimates is worth 580 billion dollars annually.

Under the concept of halal -- meaning "permissible" in Arabic -- pork and its by-products, alcohol and animals not slaughtered according to Koranic procedures are all forbidden.