By Iyemah David
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), has reached a significant milestone as it celebrates its fifth anniversary, according to Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, its Director General.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the NCDC Act into law in 2018, providing a legal framework for the agency’s operations and strengthening its capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious diseases.
The NCDC has developed a comprehensive strategic plan (2017-2021) outlining its objectives and actions to enhance disease surveillance, laboratory capacity, emergency response, and research and knowledge management.
Dr Adetifa said that since the agency’s establishment, it has achieved remarkable progress in strengthening disease surveillance, emergency response and laboratory capacity.
It has also improved health education, international collaborations and epidemic preparedness.
“One of the key achievements of the NCDC has been the enhancement of disease surveillance across Nigeria, enabling the prompt detection and response to disease outbreaks.
“This has played a crucial role in controlling infectious diseases such as Lassa fever, cholera, and meningitis,” he said.
He said that the NCDC had also excelled in emergency response, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The agency took the lead in coordinating the national response, facilitating testing, contact tracing, and providing guidance to healthcare workers and the general public.
“Our efforts have been instrumental in mitigating the impact of the pandemic in Nigeria,” he said.
Recognising the importance of public awareness, he said that the NCDC has actively engaged in public health education through campaigns, social media platforms, and collaborations with media outlets.
“We have disseminated vital information on disease prevention, symptoms, and the significance of seeking early medical care, empowering Nigerians to make informed decisions regarding their health,” he said.
He said that the NCDC has fostered valuable collaborations with international organizations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
“These partnerships have facilitated technical support, capacity building, and knowledge sharing, elevating Nigeria’s public health standing and strengthening its response capabilities.
“The agency has also made significant strides in epidemic preparedness, developing and implementing national guidelines, protocols, and response plans for various infectious diseases.
“They have conducted simulation exercises to test preparedness and response capabilities, positioning Nigeria to effectively manage future outbreaks,” he said
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that the NCDC played a pivotal role in coordinating Nigeria’s response by providing data and technical expertise to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, informing evidence-based decision-making.
“As the country’s International Health Regulations national focal point, the NCDC ensured compliance with global health requirements through regular after-action reviews, simulation exercises, joint external evaluations, and reporting to the WHO,” he said.
He said the agency developed a five-year National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) to strengthen Nigeria’s capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies.
“We also launched the One Health Strategic Plan, promoting a multisectoral approach to address the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health,” he said.
He disclosed that the NCDC significantly increased its workforce from less than 100 in 2016 to 500 in 2021, enhancing its capacity to respond to disease outbreaks and emergencies.
He said that the agency established and operationalized the National Reference Laboratory (NRL), a state-of-the-art facility for diagnosing infectious diseases of national and international concern, including COVID-19.
Dr Adetifa said that from legislative advancements to capacity building, laboratory strengthening, and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCDC has demonstrated its commitment to protecting the health of Nigerians.
He said that these achievements highlighted the agency’s vital role in ensuring public health security and preparedness in the country.