Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Malaysia may face serious trouble if it does not make its own vaccines

Star: PETALING JAYA: Malaysia may find itself in “serious trouble” if it does not make its own vaccines because vaccine-producing nations may not want to share their supply in the event of a global influenza pandemic.
Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said it was imperative that Malaysia manufactures its own vaccines so it need not be dependent on other countries.
"For Malaysia, it is not only about providing halal vaccine but also to be self-reliant,” he told reporters on Tuesday after attending the Organisation of Islamic Conference Ministerial Conference Scientific Programme here.
“When it (the flu pandemic) happens in any part of world, I do not think those countries are going to share vaccines with us.
“In that kind of situation, if we do not have the capacity to produce the vaccine, then we are in serious trouble. That is why we are so obsessed,” he added.
The National Institute of Natural Products, Vaccines and Biologicals (9Bio) is expected to produce vaccines within two years beginning with vaccines for diseases like polio, tetanus and diptheria.
Another move by 9Bio is to do research on vaccines which can prevent diseases peculiar to the region like dengue fever and the Nipah virus.
Vaccines produced by the institute will be halal.
Dr Ismail said that Malaysia had taken the lead to do so as it realised that there was a “plea” for more Muslim countries to produce their own vaccines rather than procure it somewhere else.
Malaysia also hopes to be a major supplier of such vaccines together with Indonesia.

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