The United States Government, through its Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has sent a delegation to Nigeria to learn capacity building for global health security, disease detection, preparedness and response.
The Director of Global Health Advocacy, United Nations Foundation, Mr. Brian Massa, who led the delegation to the National Reference Laboratory of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in Abuja recently, said the delegation were on a learning visit to Nigeria.
“We are here at the national reference lab in NCDC 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, that are required to detect, assess, notify and respond to public health risks and emergencies of national and international concern, as stipulated in Articles 5 and 13, and Annex 1, of the Regulations,” he said.
Massa said that the delegation observed the laboratory diagnostic facilities, and discuss the importance of resilient health systems, the integration and data-sharing of country-wide disease detection, and the country’s response to the current Monkeypox outbreak amongst others.
“This year’s visit to Nigeria will further develop the roster of Congressional staffers who work on global health policy to understand how bilateral Global Health Security investments in the country have strengthened global health security and pandemic preparedness,” he disclosed.
According to him, it was a great partnership between the Nigerian government and the United States government.
“So the US CDC has provided very generous and important support on collaboration with the NCDC to provide training, technical capacity building and to be able to detect diseases early,” he added.
Massa said through partnerships with the NCDC, the US CDC is improving the quality of critical public health services in the country.
Also speaking, the Director-General, NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa ,said the NCDC’s NRL in Abuja is the organisation’s focal laboratory providing High-Quality Public Health Laboratory Services, coordinating laboratory-based surveillance and providing oversight to state public health laboratories in the country.
Adetifa said that the US Government through the USCDC and implementing partners have supported the agency with laboratory equipment, consumables, reagents and technical support.
“As such, over the last several years, the U.S Congress supported by the UN Foundation has organized Congressional learning trips to observe “global health”, UN peacekeeping, humanitarian, and development operations across the globe, highlighting the US-UN partnership in the field,” he explained.
The NCDC boss said that the US congressional delegation is made up of staffers and principal aides of the US senators and members of the House of Representatives or 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.
“And it’s important that they understand in visits such as this where the US government investments are going, what they are achieving, and what other areas may require support, even as they think about their national security, and think about global health security, as a whole.
“And it also, provides 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 explained.
The World Health Organisation, representative, Dr. Kofi Boateng, EPI Focal Point, Universal Health Coverage 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 can 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 has shown, investing in preparedness is much cheaper and more effective than funding responses.
While stressing WHO’s continuous support in the country, he said that Investment in preparation must be founded on continuous community engagement, coordination between sectors, and sensitive and flexible surveillance and response systems.