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US Understudies Nigeria’s Capacity Development for Global Health Security

todayAugust 21, 2022

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The United States of America Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC) has sent a delegation to Nigeria to learn capacity building for global health security.

The American team will also understudy Nigeria’s disease detection, preparedness and response.

The Director of Global Health Advocacy, United Nations Foundation, Mr Brian Massa, led the delegation to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), National Reference Laboratory (NRL), on Friday in Abuja,

According to Massa, the delegation was on a learning visit to Nigeria.

“We are here at the NRL to learn about the great work that the Nigerian government is doing with capacity building for global health security, disease detection, preparedness and response.

“Nigeria is in line with the IHR core capacities required to detect, assess, notify and respond to public health risks and emergencies.

”This is as stipulated in Articles five and 13, and Annex one, of the Regulations,” he said.

Massa said that the delegation observed the laboratory diagnostic facilities, and discussed the importance of resilient health systems.

He added that the integration and data-sharing of country-wide disease detection and the country’s response to the current Monkeypox outbreak were also studied.

“This visit will further develop the roster of congressional staffers who work on global health policy.

”It will help them to understand how bilateral Global Health Security investments in the country have strengthened global health security and pandemic preparedness,” he said.

According to him, it is s a great partnership between the Nigerian government and the United States government.

“The USCDC has provided very generous and important support in collaboration with the NCDC to provide training, technical capacity building and to be able to detect diseases early.

“Through partnerships with the NCDC, the USCDC is improving the quality of critical public health services in the country,” he said.

According to the Director-General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, the NRL in Abuja is the organisation’s focal laboratory.

Adetifa said that the laboratory provides High-Quality Public Health Laboratory Services, coordinates laboratory-based surveillance and provides oversight to state public health laboratories.

He said that the American government, through the USCDC and implementing partners had supported the agency with laboratory equipment, consumables, reagents and technical support.

“Over the last several years, the American Congress, supported by the UN Foundation, had organised congressional learning trips to observe global health.

”The Congress also organised trips to UN peacekeeping, humanitarian, and development operations across the globe, highlighting the US-UN partnership in the field,” he said.

The NCDC boss said that the US delegation included staffers and principal aides of US senators and members of the House of Congress with a task in health services, global health or health security.

“So they are here on behalf of their principals because within their principals’ offices, they handle health-related or global health issues.

“Visits like this provide us with an opportunity to lay out areas that we may require support, either directly by what we say or indirectly by what they see,” he said.

Adetifa, however, said that questions about the country’s preparedness for a future pandemic were difficult to answer while highlighting lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the question about whether people are prepared for pandemics or not is a difficult one to answer.

“We had a ranking of countries that were supposedly in a better place to deal with pandemics, but COVID-19 came and showed us that the ranking was irrelevant.

“However, the message I take away from the ranking is that it shows the importance of having resilient health systems.

” So, after everybody was confronted by COVID-19, we all sort of collapsed. But, then, we can see how systems are recovering,” he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, Dr Kofi Boateng, said that there have been significant improvements in the country’s laboratories which is a critical area of health security.

Boating said that the country could detect, assess, report, and respond to public health events, which is the core capability of IHR.

He, however, said that as the COVID-19 pandemic had shown, investing in preparedness is much cheaper and more effective than funding responses.

He pledged the WHO’s continuous support to the country.

According to him, ”investment in preparation must be founded on continuous community engagement, coordination between sectors, and sensitive and flexible surveillance and response systems.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the US has been a longstanding global health security leader.

In 2014, the US helped launch the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), to strengthen the world’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats.

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