Malaysia to produce first ‘halal’ meningitis vaccine
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — Malaysia said Thursday it plans to develop a
“halal” meningitis vaccine jointly with Cuba within the next two years.
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.
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.
Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia would provide
2.0 million ringgit for the project while Cuba would fund the remaining
“This is a success for USM and the country’s pride to see Malaysia realising its plan to produce the vaccine,” he told Bernama.
said 12 USM specialists and 30 Cuban experts would develop the vaccine
from halal extracts of animals slaughtered according to Islamic tenets.
is trying to position itself as a global hub for the halal industry,
which it estimates is worth 580 billion dollars annually.
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.
Within two years, Malaysia will produce the
world’s first halal meningitis vaccination. The $1.06 million USD (3.6
million MYR) research project, jointly run by the Universiti Sains
Malaysia and the Finlay Institute in Cuba, expects to benefit millions
of Muslims who annually troop to Saudi Arabia for the Haj pilgrimage.
memorandum of understanding between the two institutions will be signed
in Cuba on December, Malaysia Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa
Mohamed said Thursday at a gathering hosted by USM’s Health Faculty.
Malaysia will shoulder $594,000 USD (2 million MYR), while Cuba will pay for the $475,000 USD (1.6 million MYR) balance.
is the swelling of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord.
According to the World Health Organization a large number of Muslim
pilgrims, especially from African countries with high levels of
meningococcal diseases, gather every year in Saudi Arabia leading to
high incidents of meningitis during the Haj. In 2000, an all time high
of 304 meningitis cases were reported.
In an effort to contain
meningitis during Haj, Saudi Arabia set up vaccination centers around
the Holy Mosque, Mecca and Medina and at various ports of entry.