Meningitis vaccine halal

October 20, 2007

meningitis KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry yesterday assured Muslims that the meningitis vaccine used in the country was halal.
Director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the vaccine, Mencevax ACWY, marketed by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical was approved by the Islamic Religious Development Department (Jakim) in 2002.

“No ingredient from animals is used in the preparation of the vaccine. The chemical cysteine hydrochoride used in the vaccine comes from duck feathers.”

Dr Ismail was commenting on Universiti Sains Malaysia’s plan to spearhead research to produce the world’s first halal vaccine for meningitis.

Meningitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
On Thursday, Higher Education Minister Datuk Mus-tapa Mohamed said the government had allocated RM2 million for joint research and development of the vaccine with the Finlay Institute, an organisation dedicated to vaccine research and production in Cuba.

Dr Ismail said the Saudi government had made it compulsory since 2002 for all pilgrims to be vaccinated against meningitis because of the high risk of infection during the haj and umrah seasons.

Muslims can get free vaccinations at government clinics.

National Institute for Natural Products, Vaccines and Biologicals (9bio) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Nor Shahidah Khairullah said 9bio, under the ministry, was focused on the research and development of vaccines, natural products and biologicals.

“One of our key activities is the certification of vaccines by Jakim.”

She said at the annual meeting of the self-reliance vaccine production programme of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference held here in 2004, the prime minister committed 9bio to the production of halal vaccines for Malaysia and OIC member countries.

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