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Nigeria’s Efforts To Enhance Health Capabilities Laudable – FMOH

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The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has lauded the nation’s efforts to enhance its capabilities in disease surveillance, emergency response, points of entry/border health, laboratory systems and workforce development.

The director of public health at the ministry, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike conveyed this sentiment on Friday in Abuja, concluding the second Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of Nigeria’s health security capacity through the assessment of its international health regulations (IHR) prescribed core capacities.

A voluntary and collaborative JEE assesses a country’s capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health risks, whether natural or due to deliberate or accidental events.

In 2017, Nigeria underwent its first JEE, which evaluated the country’s IHR capacities and resulted in a score of 39 per cent. These regulations establish global standards for countries’ preparedness to address public health threats.

Anyaike acknowledged that global health threats are constantly evolving, necessitating an ongoing commitment to adapt and improve. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the significance of a robust health security system, emphasising the interconnectedness of nations. He disclosed that insights from the second JEE will guide Nigeria in enhancing its preparedness, response and recovery mechanisms.

He expressed gratitude to partners for their contributions, noting their instrumental role in shaping the assessment’s recommendations. He stressed the importance of the collective effort to fortify Nigeria’s health security landscape, ensuring the protection of citizens’ health and safety.

The director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Adetifa, highlighted that the assessment identified gaps across 19 technical areas, which informed the development of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS 2018 – 2022).

Adetifa detailed the achievements of the JEE over the past five days, including assessing health security capacity using a health security assessment tool 3.0, measuring progress across 19 IHR core capacities, identifying priority actions and initiating discussions to inform resource mobilisation and preparedness planning.

In specific thematic areas, the assessment revealed notable progress: in prevention, Nigeria scored 39 per cent in 2017 and 50 per cent in 2023; in detection, scores were 51 per cent in 2017 and 58 per cent in 2023; in response, scores rose from 37 per cent in 2017 to 51 per cent in 2023. Regarding IHR-related hazards and ports of entry, the score increased from 37 per cent in 2017 to 63 per cent in 2023.

The IHR national focal point/head of surveillance & epidemiology at NCDC, Dr. Oyeladun Okunromade clarified that the second JEE evaluated national progress in achieving IHR core capacities, allowing countries to identify their most urgent capacity-building needs. It informs the development and revision of national action plans for health security, aids in prioritising preparedness efforts and encourages investment in health security.

The conclusion of the second JEE marked the announcement of a new average score of 54 per cent for Nigeria, reinforcing the nation’s commitment to strengthening its health security capabilities.

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