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COVID-19, emerging biological threats to national security – NSA



COVID-19, emerging biological threats to national security – NSA
The National Security Advisor (NSA), retired Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno, has described the outbreak of Coronavirus known as COVID-19 as one of the emerging biological threats to national security.

Munguno revealed this at a five-day training on biorisk management and preparedness for public health emergencies, organized by the NSA in collaboration with the World Health Organization and other technical partners on Monday in Abuja.

NSA Represented, Policy and Strategy, Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA), Amb. Aminu Lawal said that the COVID-19 outbreak in December 2019 had brought the world to a standstill.

It said that 340,543,962 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,570,163 deaths, had been notified to the WHO as of January 22, worldwide with 9,571,502,663 vaccine doses administered.

According to him, in Nigeria the cases of coronavirus are 251,959, with 3,124 dead and 225,946 recovered.

“The crises that engulfed the world brought economies to a low point and that disruption still continues.

“The current COVID-19 pandemic has also left in its wake loss of life, economic loss, as well as stalled programs and activities due to strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, among others,” he said.

Monguno revealed that a Joint External Evaluation (JEE) exercise was conducted in 2017 to examine the preparedness of health systems for emergencies and shocks.

He maintained that the capabilities were well proven and are still being tested with the COVID-19 outbreak.

He added that Nigeria had continued to witness outbreaks of other endemic diseases such as Lassa fever, cholera and malaria with significant morbidity and mortality.


According to him, therefore, it is safe to say that the country’s health systems are overwhelmed in various aspects.

He said the training was designed to bring together critical personnel from over 20 MDAs to equip participants with current trends in biospace as the next potent threat to national security.

“The goal of the training is to familiarize the participants, who are mostly public health professionals from security and law enforcement agencies, with emerging biological threats to national security.

“With the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases receding in Nigeria, we look forward to consolidating the gains from this meeting to provide the foundation for future engagement as we seek to build a viable force to reduce any threat to national security emanating from biological threats.

“It may interest everyone that ONSA is coordinating efforts to build a broad-based response to CBRNE emergencies in all MDAs.

“In this sense, the annual simulated Crisis Exercises organized in more than 28 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) are a strong statement that national security implies multi-sector and multi-agency collaboration,” he said.

Medical Intelligence Chief Dr. Levin Damisah said the training was in response to the fact that security had moved beyond fighting with guns and bombs to biological aspects.

Damisah said the battles had shifted to fighting bacteria, viruses and telecobalts, adding that proper preparations were needed to deal with these emerging biological delicacies.

He said law enforcement agencies could no longer be sidelined in the medical health emergency response considering the important roles they played during the 2014 Ebola outbreak and COVID-19.

He said ONSA believed there was a need to create synergies and multiply force against emerging biological threats to national security through capacity building.

“We are holding this meeting so that we can start a new narrative to see how we can do more and move forward to ensure that Nigeria’s health security is guaranteed.

“The essence of this training is to begin to understand that viruses are serious weapons that spare no one, but the effect can be mitigated if we join forces,” he said.

Damisah urged participants to show serious commitment to training as key stakeholders in health safety management.

The Director General of the National Biosecurity Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, said the training of security personnel in biorisk management was a testament that Nigeria was prepared for emergencies.

Ebegba said that the topic of biotechnology was something that required the synergy of all sectors, adding that the topic of the invisibility of microorganisms required knowledge, skills and technology.

He assured that the NBMA would continue to collaborate with all relevant agencies, parastatals and agencies to have a very strong focus on the issue of biosecurity.

He commended ONSA for the zeal and interest shown in developing the national action plan for health security and said that its guidance had helped the NBMA achieve its mandates.

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