Malaysia: First halal meningitis vaccine
Oct 18, 2007 - 6:45:01 PM

KOTA BAHARU — Malaysia, a global hub of halal industry, is planning the world's first halal vaccine for meningitis, which would be of particular service for Muslim pilgrims.

"This is a success for Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and the country's pride to see Malaysia realizing its plan to produce the vaccine," Higher Education Minister Mustapa Mohamed told the Bernama news agency on Thursday, October 18.

The halal vaccine will benefit thousands of Muslim pilgrims infected with meningitis.
The 3.6 million ringgit (one million dollar) vaccine will be produced in two years jointly by USM and Cuba's Finlay Institute.

Twelve USM specialists and 30 Cuban experts will be working to produce the halal vaccine from animal extracts slaughtered according to Islamic teachings.

Mustapa said Finlay Institute was picked as USM's working partner for being among the best medical institutes in Cuba and in the world.

A memorandum of understanding between the two sides would be signed in Cuba in December.

The concept of halal -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.

Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.

Now other goods and services are certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.

  • Pilgrims

The halal vaccine will benefit thousands of Muslim pilgrims infected with meningitis.

Mustapa said worldwide Muslims now rely on non-halal vaccines imported from the West to meet the mandatory requirement set by Saudi Arabia for hajj and `Umrah.

Millions of Muslims from the four corners of the world flock to Saudi Arabia yearlong.

Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the central nervous system.

It is caused by infectious agents, physical injury, cancer, or certain drugs.

Meningitis vaccines are produced in the West from pig extracts.

Muslims consider pigs and their meat too filthy and unhealthy to eat.

Malaysia, a mainly Muslim country, is becoming globally recognized as the world’s halal food hub.

Halal food production zones are already operating or being built in six Malaysian states, and a sprawling halal distribution hub has been built at a duty-free shipment zone in southern Johor state, on the busy Malacca strait.

In 2004, Malaysia launched a bi-monthly magazine, The Halal Journal , as the first trade and business publication serving the global halal market.

Source: IslamOnline