Pandemic Fund: FG Enhances Health Security With Sector-Wide Approach

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National Dialogue Stakeholders
A cross section of stakeholders during the national dialogue in Abuja.

The Nigerian government has announced robust measures to bolster the nation’s health security infrastructure in response to ongoing global health challenges.

The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate made this declaration on Monday in Abuja during the National Dialogue on Nigeria’s Pandemic Fund Grant Application.

The Pandemic Fund, a collaborative initiative aimed at enhancing pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacities in low- and middle-income countries, has amassed $2 billion in funding from various stakeholders, as reported by Science Nigeria.

Proposals must focus on early warning systems, disease surveillance, laboratory infrastructure, and enhancing public health and community workforce capacity. They should address these priority areas while accommodating specific regional needs.

Pate outlined the implementation of a sector-wide approach to enhance surveillance, detection, and readiness for potential outbreaks. He highlighted the establishment of the Pandemic Fund as part of Nigeria’s broader health sector reinforcement initiative.

Emphasising the nation’s commitment to self-reliance in health security, he stressed the importance of domestic investment alongside external support.

Furthermore, he underscored transparency and accountability, outlining plans for regular health reports and public dialogues to ensure citizen engagement and oversight.

Endorsed at both federal and state levels, this comprehensive approach aims to foster a unified response to safeguard Nigeria’s population against health threats.

Pate emphasised the critical need for a unified and coordinated approach to health security, leveraging available resources and expertise to effectively address present and future challenges.

He underlined the importance of learning from past pandemics like COVID-19 and emphasised the significance of initiatives such as the pandemic plan in improving preparedness and response capabilities.

Additionally, he stressed the importance of collaboration between national systems, development partners, and organisations like the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of efforts in tackling health emergencies.

Programme director, division of global health protection, USCDC, Dr. Farah Husain underscored the significance of partnership and innovation in ensuring optimal readiness and response to disease outbreaks.

Husain acknowledged the need for collective efforts from various stakeholders, including government institutions and international partners, to build resilient systems and effectively tackle health security challenges.

She also recognised the importance of innovative financing mechanisms like the pandemic fund in driving results and reversing the trend of underfunding health security initiatives.

The WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo called for a unified approach and increased investment in health security measures to safeguard the population and mitigate future risks.

Mulombo stressed the significance of initiatives like the pandemic plan in enhancing readiness for future pandemics and health emergencies.

Additionally, he highlighted the need for funding and support for organisations like NCDC to drive these efforts forward.

He underscored the urgency of addressing global health security issues, including antimicrobial resistance, and emphasised the role of collective action in ensuring a stronger and more effective response to health threats.

Also speaking, the director-general of NCDC, Dr. Jide Idris emphasised the collective responsibility and shared commitment to navigating future health challenges and ensuring the country’s preparedness and resilience.

Idris emphasized the importance of prevention, disease surveillance, and preparedness and response capabilities as key components of this infrastructure.

Furthermore, he highlighted the government’s commitment to prioritising health security, as evidenced by its inclusion in the Nigeria Health Sector Renewal Investment Programme (NHSRIP).

He underscored the collaborative effort needed to effectively utilise the pandemic fund and address national needs, emphasising transparency, collaboration and accountability.

He also stressed the importance of considering various guidelines and perspectives, such as the One Health approach, gender sensitivity, equity issues and climate and health, in developing a comprehensive and compelling grant application that reflects Nigeria’s unified national priorities.

Recall that the pandemic fund was established in September 2022 and officially launched during a G20 meeting. Hosted by the World Bank, the Pandemic Fund is the first multilateral financing mechanism dedicated to providing multiyear grants to help low- and middle-income countries better prepare for future pandemics.

The Fund received 179 applications from 133 countries in its first Call for Proposals. The first round of awards was granted in July 2023, totaling US$338 million that will leverage over US$2 billion to help 37 countries strengthen their capacity to prevent, prepare for, and respond to pandemics.

Over 30 per cent of the grants allocated are for projects in sub-Saharan Africa, and over 75 percent are in low and lower-middle-income countries.

Racheal Abujah
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