KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will develop its own vaccines to ensure sufficient supply to protect newborn babies and boost resilience towards endemic diseases, said Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng.
Currently, he said, the country was totally dependent on imports for various essential vaccines, chalking up an annual bill of about RM48mil.
He said over the next five years, RM220mil would be allocated for research and development of vaccines and other products under the National Institute for Natural Products and Vaccinology (NINPV), expected to be ready in 2005.
Unicef had last year warned that there will be a global shortage of basic childhood vaccines due to significant changes in the vaccine market and the industrys focus on profitability.
Insufficient supply may result in the rampant spread of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases such as poliomyelitis, diphtheria and measles and we must adopt measures to ensure our newborn babies in the future are protected.
NINPV will also cater for newer vaccines for diseases in the region such as Nipah, Japanese Encephalitis and dengue, he told a press conference at the ministry yesterday.