By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the Federal Government is not satisfied with efforts made by stakeholders to guarantee biosafety in the nation’s health sector.
Ehanire, who at the 2019 annual biological safety conference on Friday in Abuja, said Nigeria not only has a large burden of infectious diseases but also experiences gaps in its capacity to leverage technology for preventing the spread of pathogens.
“We recognise that we are not yet where we want to be, but we are aware of many of our weaknesses and making good progress.
“The world is becoming more and more of a global village, due to the ease and speed of modern travel. Therefore, risk in one country is a risk for all countries.
“We cannot make progress in biosafety and biosecurity if we do not work with other countries. The emergence of Africa centre for disease control and West Africa Health Organization provide a strong and unique opportunity for Africa,” Ehanire said.
In his remarks, Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo expressed the Federal Government’s determination to tackle new threats to national security posed by the use of biotechnology for food and disease management.
Nigeria’s Vice President, who was represented by the Minister of State (Health), Olorunnimbe Mamora said:
“We must look at biosafety and biosecurity from the angle of national security; that is, preventing criminals from deliberately using technology to cause long and short-term threats by introducing animal or plant diseases into the environment, food and water system.
“We must not be static in the use of these biotechnology but to ensure that as technology advances, we also reduce the risk of its abuse and optimise its benefits.”
On his part, the keynote speaker, Prof. Olufemi Olaleye, examined the role of biosafety in promoting national and regional development, noting its impact on factors that make for health security.
Earlier, the Vice President of Nigerian Biological Safety Association (NIBSA), Dr Stella Udo, said the conference was organised to provide platform for exchanging ideas on solutions to numerous biosafety and biosecurity issues affecting the nation.