By Iyemah David
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) said that the country must remain steadfast in transforming its health security.
The Director-General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, said this at the ongoing Joint External Evaluation (JEE) meeting being held in Abuja.
The meeting involves a multidisciplinary team of experts assessing the country’s preparedness and response capabilities across 19 technical areas in different Ministries, Departments and Agencies, on Monday in Abuja.
Health security in Nigeria refers to the measures and actions taken to protect the population from health threats, including infectious diseases, natural disasters and other emergencies.
The country has faced several health securities challenges in the past, including outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola, Lassa fever and cholera.
To enhance health security in the country, the government and relevant stakeholders have implemented various strategies – disease surveillance and response, health emergency preparedness and response, among others.
Despite these efforts, challenges remain in ensuring comprehensive health security in the country.
These include inadequate funding, weak health systems in some areas, and limited access to healthcare in remote and underserved communities.
However, the government continues to prioritise health security and work towards addressing the challenges, to protect the population’s health.
Dr Adetifa said that JEE was an essential tool that provides an unbiased and comprehensive assessment of the nation’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to health threats.
He said, “It evaluates various aspects of our health system, ranging from surveillance and laboratory systems to emergency response and risk communication.
“The process allows us to identify our strengths and pinpoint areas that demand further attention and improvement,” he said.
Dr Adetifa commended Nigeria for taking significant strides in fortifying its public health security landscape.
“Through our collective efforts and the unwavering commitment of the NCDC team, we have witnessed commendable progress in strengthening disease surveillance mechanisms, bolstering laboratory infrastructure, and nurturing a resilient emergency preparedness culture,” he added.
The NCDC DG, however, said that the evaluation also highlighted areas where redoubled efforts must be made.
He said, “We must address these gaps proactively and with a sense of urgency. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that no Nigerian is left vulnerable to the devastating impact of infectious diseases or any health emergency.
“To achieve this, we shall forge even stronger collaborations and partnerships. We must unite with national and international stakeholders, leveraging each other’s expertise and resources,” he said.
Dr Adetifa said that collaboration remained the cornerstone of success in building a robust and responsive health system that left no room for complacency.
“Our journey does not end with this evaluation. It merely marks a milestone in our unyielding pursuit of excellence in public health security.
“We shall continue to foster innovation, harness the power of technology, and invest in the capacity of our human resources to drive sustainable change,” he said.
According to him, people must embrace the JEE findings with a spirit of determination and enthusiasm, adding “Let us work hand in hand, drawing inspiration from our achievements and learning from our challenges.
“As we move forward, our resolve to build a stronger, healthier, and safer Nigeria shall never waver. May we all be guided by the spirit of collaboration and compassion in this noble pursuit.”
NAN reports that the International Health Regulations (2005) is a legally binding framework that requires all WHO member countries to develop and maintain their capacities to prevent and respond to public health risks and emergencies.
Nigeria conducted her first Joint External Evaluation (JEE) in June 2017 using the JEE 1.0 tool.