By Arinola Kolade & Kosiso Onyibali
The United Kingdom through its national public health institute, Public Health England, PHE, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, to strengthen health security in Nigeria.
The IHR strengthening programme in Nigeria is part of a £16 million project funded by the UK Department of Health, to support the capacities of national public health institutes in five countries. In Nigeria, this project will focus on the key pillars within the mandate of NCDC, including disease surveillance, emergency preparedness and response, public health laboratory services as well as workforce development.
At the signing event in Abuja, the IHR strengthening programme which was formally launched by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Paul Arkwright, emphasised the need for strong collaboration between national public health institutes in ensuring global health security.
“The United Kingdom recognizes that we must work closely with other countries in our efforts to build strong and resilient health systems globally. The partnership between PHE and NCDC would contribute to ensuring the world is much safer and less vulnerable to the threat of infectious diseases”.
Chief Executive of PHE, Duncan Selbie added that the recent cases of monkey pox in the United Kingdom highlighted the ease of movement of infectious diseases and reinforced the need to strengthen national public health institutes globally.
“The IHR strengthening project is very much a partnership and invaluable opportunity for both countries to learn from each other. By working together and sharing expertise, both countries become stronger and that is our joint ultimate aim.”
In his address, CEO, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu,stated that the implementation of the programme in Nigeria will be coordinated by NCDC. The NCDC will work with PHE to provide dedicated staff time and adoption of a multi-sectoral collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Environment, and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; other relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs); as well as partner organizations.
“We are grateful for this opportunity which formalises and strengthens the existing relationship between NCDC and PHE. We look forward to building on this co-operation, for national and global health security” said Dr. Ihekweazu.
Since the program began in 2017, PHE has supported NCDC in the development of its National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS), training of staff from the National Reference Laboratory and the network of public health laboratories on enteric pathogen testing, development and strengthening of protocols for NCDC’s incident management system and several other project areas.