By Asmau Ahmad
Nigeria’s health security has increased from 39 per cent in 2017 to 54 per cent in 2023, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) said.
Health security is the ability to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats that could endanger people’s health across geographical regions and international boundaries.
The development was disclosed at the end of a five-day second Joint External Evaluation (JEE) for International Health Regulations Core Capacities in Abuja.
On Monday, Nigeria commences its Second Joint External Evaluation (JEE) for the International Health Regulations (IHR) Core Capacities.
The second Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of Nigeria’s health security capacity through the assessment of its International Health Regulations (IHR) prescribed core capacities concluded on Friday.
The NCDC disclosed that following its first JEE, Nigeria is one of a handful of countries to undertake a second round of the JEE, utilizing the JEE 3.0 tools.
The JEE is a voluntary multi-sectoral process and one of the four components of the IHR monitoring and evaluation framework.
This process involves a diverse team of experts, collectively evaluating a nation’s preparedness and response capacities across 19 technical areas, under the guidance of relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
The Director General of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa noted that Nigeria has achieved the pass mark but there is a need to focus on the identified gaps for improvement.
He said: “This JEE has come at the right time. We now have new ministers that are going to be in office from Monday, and this is the time to use the recommendations for short and long-term plans.”
“We also know that the government led by President Bola Tinubu has a health agenda that covers broadly a lot of overlapping areas that were identified as gaps like universal health care, strengthening primary health care, digital health coverage, and health security.”
“In addition, we have seen the report of the Health Sector Reform Committee and this will form part of the plans that we now need to make going forward to ensure the health of Nigerians is secured, and we are reassured by what we have seen so far, that government continues to be interested in health security and we will continue to walk the talk as far as the subject is concerned.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Lead External Evaluator and the Senior Adviser of the Global JEE Secretariat, Dr Hendrick Ormel, also maintained that Nigeria made a lot of progress but noted that a lot still needs to be done.
According to him, “It is necessary that the food will be safer to eat. A lot needs to be done but I can see that you are dedicated and the people working for you are professionals but you are understaffed, and by doing this, the government is not only helping you, but helping the global health security.”
While speaking further, Ormel recommended that there is a need to create a five-year risk-based National Action Plan for Health Security with realistic costing proposals for priorities, based on the JEE report, and after-action reviews, using the guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Empower and enable the implementation of the NAPHS starting from 2024 to address gaps in health security identified by the JEE, the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, and other emergencies.
“Coordinate multi-sectoral public and private engagement for national and subnational multi-hazard health emergency preparedness and response clearly to the national disaster risk management architecture, strategy and plan.
“Develop an accountability framework and Standard Operating Procedures for intra and inter-sectoral coordination and communication including the security apparatus, the private sector, and civil society,” he said.