By Iyemah David
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease and Prevention Control (NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, has called for increased budgetary allocation to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats in the country.
Dr Adetifa made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday on his two-year anniversary in office.
The director-general said dedicated funding for the implementation of health security will increase capacities in responding to public health threats.
The NCDC boss also noted the need to strengthen subnational support, considering the federated structure of the country.
“We must establish a robust relationship with different states and invest in subnational work to enhance health security in the country.
“We need to prioritise health. Health goes beyond capital projects – buildings and facilities. You need the human capital, equipment, training, and quality systems.
“Once we get the political leadership to properly prioritise health, then health will receive more funding.
“I believe that some state governments are committing quite a bit of their own budget to health. What we need to see is to make that a groundswell; that even more states are doing that, and that the national government is doing that.
“Lagos, Kano and Gombe state have dedicated budgets for emergency preparedness and response, while others face resource constraints,” he said.
He also called for continuous surveillance and monitoring to identify and respond to diseases like Lassa fever as the country moves towards its season in November.
“Addressing healthcare challenges requires a collective effort from both the government and the people. It is not solely the responsibility of the NCDC but requires collaboration across various sectors and active participation from the public,” he said.
He acknowledged that the challenge of brain-drain exists both internally and externally in the public health sector of the country.
“The lack of attractive remuneration for public service jobs contributes to the difficulty in retaining skilled personnel,” he noted.
Dr Adetifa, a paediatrician and infectious diseases epidemiologist, was appointed as NCDC director-general in September 2021 by former president Muhammadu Buhari to replace Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu who was the head of the agency since August 2016.
Before his appointment as director-general, he was Clinical Epidemiologist, Epidemiology & Demography Department, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP), Kilifi, Kenya and an Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.