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Int’l Health Regulations Increases by 7percent, gets 46% scorecard

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Aminat Isah, Abuja

The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) has announced a new average Joint External Evaluation (JEE) score of 46% for Nigeria, a 7% increase from the 2017 score of 39%.

A score which happens to be in line with the review of Nigeria’s International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats.

In June 2017, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as the IHR National Focal Point, conducted Nigeria’s JEE with close involvement of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) whose functions are related to national health security, to join the league of nations who have voluntarily agreed to participate in the transparent, peer-led process to assess compliance with the IHR global standards of countries’ preparedness to tackle public health threats.

Two years after the first JEE, a mid-term assessment was carried out to review progress and gaps since 2017, as well as priorities towards improving national health security, from the 18th – 21st of November 2019, with key stakeholders from 29 MDAs involved in health security used the World Health Organization (WHO) approved tool with 49 indicators to assess Nigeria’s capacity in the 19 technical areas.

This was further validated by a mission Team from the World Health Organisation, Public Health England, Resolve to Save Lives, US Centers for Disease Control, Georgetown University, African Field Epidemiology Network, ProHealth International and University of Maryland Baltimore.

The findings from the JEE show that Nigeria has made some progress since 2017, especially in areas such as legislation, policy and financing; zoonotic disease; biosafety and biosecurity; laboratory system; reporting; emergency preparedness; and response operations; medical countermeasures and risk communication.

Dr. Clement Peter-Lasuba, Officer in Charge of World Health Organisation (WHO) Nigeria recognising Nigeria’s progress in his remarks said “WHO congratulates Nigeria for the successful workshop and recognises the significant progress made which is linked to the strong partnerships and increasing multi-sectoral approach employed.

He however noted that more needs to be done to attain full capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats in the country.

“I encourage even more contributions from the Federal and State governments as well as partners to enable Nigeria to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal -related targets,” Said Peters.

Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director General of the NCDC, in his remarks harped on the need for improved multi-sectoral effort to protect the health of Nigerians.

“We are grateful for another opportunity to work collaboratively with our colleagues from other MDAs. It is very important for us to maintain and strengthen our multi-sectoral collaboration for health security. We are only as strong as our weakest link so progress in only one sector alone is not the progress we need. We have to take everyone along”

Receiving the results for Nigeria, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, reiterated the federal government’s commitment to health security in Nigeria, and thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his unwavering commitment.

“Since the first JEE, we have made progress, progress with which I am very pleased. I am impressed with the leadership of the NCDC in their implementation of the IHR in Nigeria.

“I shall ensure that all relevant agencies and government departments work towards ensuring that the results of this evaluation are discussed with leaders of the Ministries and Agencies involved, to ensure prioritisation and mobilisation of adequate resources to strengthen Nigeria’s health security”.

The JEE process has provided an opportunity to understand current gaps and identify priorities that can be implemented with strong multi-sectoral collaboration.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is the government agency with the mandate to lead the prevention, detection, and control of communicable diseases. Its functions are to prevent, detect, investigate and control communicable diseases of national and international public health importance.

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