Malaysia said Thursday it plans to develop a "halaal" meningitis vaccine jointly with Cuba within the next two years.
The 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.
At present, most meningitis vaccines are produced from pig products, which are considered haram, or forbidden, by Muslims, it said.
Bernama said the halaal vaccine is a joint project between Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and the Finlay Institute in Cuba.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia would provide 2 million ringgit for the project while Cuba would fund the remaining 1.6 million.
No pig products
"This is a success for USM and the country's pride to see Malaysia realising its plan to produce the vaccine," he told Bernama.
Mustapa said 12 USM specialists and 30 Cuban experts would develop the vaccine from halaal extracts of animals slaughtered according to Islamic tenets.
Malaysia is trying to position itself as a global hub for the halaal industry, which it estimates is worth $580 billion annually.
Under the concept of halaal - meaning "permissible" in Arabic - pork and its by-products, alcohol and animals not slaughtered according to Koranic procedures are all forbidden. – (Sapa/AFP)