Nigeria has commenced the second edition of the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) focused on assessing its prescribed core capacities according to the International Health Regulations (IHR).
Speaking in Abuja on Monday, the director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease and Prevention Control (NCDC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa said the five-day event would conclude on August 18, 2023.
Underpinning the NCDC’s mandate is the strategic aim of leading preparedness, detection, and response to public health emergencies, as highlighted by Science Nigeria. The International Health Regulations (2005), a legally binding framework by the World Health Organisation (WHO), necessitates member countries to establish and maintain the capacity to prevent, detect, assess and respond to public health risks and emergencies.
Adetifa revealed that following the country’s inaugural JEE, Nigeria emerged as one of the select few nations opting for a second round of evaluations, employing the advanced JEE 3.0 tools. “The JEE, a multi-sectoral endeavor on a voluntary basis, represents a crucial component within the IHR’s monitoring and evaluation framework,” he explained. He added that this process entails an assembly of experts collectively evaluating a nation’s readiness and response capabilities across 19 technical areas, all under the guidance of pertinent ministries, departments and agencies.
The director-general of NCDC emphasised the importance of a holistic, multi-sectoral and government-wide approach, highlighting its significance for national health security. “The NCDC, as mandated by the NCDC Act 2018, spearheads the implementation of IHR in the country. Back in 2017, Nigeria conducted its inaugural JEE using the JEE 1.0 tool, which yielded a readiness score of 39 per cent,” Adetifa noted. This result consequently led to the formulation of the 2018-2023 National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS), aimed at addressing identified gaps and recommendations arising from the 2017 evaluation.
Continuing his statement, Adetifa articulated that this 2023 JEE serves as a follow-up to the implementation of the 2018-2023 NAPHS, enabling Nigeria to critically evaluate the current status by documenting the progress made so far and identifying both new and persisting gaps and opportunities. These insights, he affirmed, would lay the groundwork for the development of the 2023-2028 NAPHS, ensuring that prioritised actions are integrated to guide interventions over the next five years.
“The external evaluators, comprising a team of experts and partners, will corroborate the recently conducted internal assessment outcomes. This external validation phase of the JEE entails a comprehensive review of presentations, documents, policies, and systems across each of the 19 technical areas. Moreover, site visits will be undertaken at national public health centres and institutes, spanning all 19 technical areas,” Adetifa elaborated. He went on to explain that after meticulously evaluating the technical aspects, validated scores will be aggregated, ultimately determining Nigeria’s 2023 JEE score – an indicator of the country’s progress in detecting, assessing, reporting and responding to public health incidents.
Adetifa underscored that the government of Nigeria remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of all its citizens. As this second JEE unfolds, Nigeria’s dedication to bolstering its health security capacities becomes the sharper focus, signalling a proactive stance in enhancing its ability to effectively address public health emergencies.