By Emanuel Elebeke
Nigeria and the Japanese Government have signed an $18.2m agreement to strengthen the capacity of Network laboratories of the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control for accurate medical and laboratory investigations.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, who signed on behalf of Nigeria, praised the Japanese government for fulfilling the promise made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Nigeria at the TICAD 7 Conference in Tokyo, last year.
He described the signing of the agreement as “timely”, against the backdrop of the recent outbreak of “the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) that has become a global concern and every country is doing its best to protect its territory and citizenry.”
The minister said that the initiative would help complement the efforts and commitment of the Nigerian Government in the fight against infectious diseases.
He reassured the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Yutaka Kikuta, who signed on behalf of the Japanese Government, of Nigeria’s commitment to creating an enabling environment to sustain the relationship between Nigeria and Japan as well as the economic development of the Nigerian nation.
Mr. Kikuta said that the Agreement was to support the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to strengthen its surveillance of infectious diseases and improve its capacity for early responses to public health concerns in Nigeria.
Kikuta disclosed that the funds would be expended on such projects as the construction of a Central Public Health Laboratory in Lagos as well as the procurement of equipment to 8 laboratories in different locations.
The locations, according to him, were the Central Public Health Laboratory in Lagos; LUTH Virology Laboratory; National Hospital, Abuja; University College Hospital, Ibadan; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu; Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State; UBTH, Benin; and University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.
He commended the NCDC for playing a pivotal role in the management of the Coronavirus index and suspected case in Nigeria, adding that the Government of Japan remained committed to her pledges and would continue to support Nigeria’s effort at strengthening its health system.
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mrs Olusola Idowu, expressed the Ministry’s commitment to sustain the relationship with the Japanese Government and to further explore avenues for future collaboration.