Stronger Health Commitment Can Help Tackle Monkeypox, Others – NCDC Boss

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The director-general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.
The director-general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.

The director-general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa has called for a stronger health commitment to tackle monkeypox and other zoonotic diseases in the country. 

Adetifa made the call today (July 13, 2022) in Abuja, at the Nigeria OneHealth Conference themed “Call to Action Towards Building a One Health Community Based Network”, organised by the NCDC and other One Health stakeholders with the support of the U.S. Department of State’s Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP) and Global Implementation Solutions (GIS). 

Recall that in 2019, the National One Health Strategic Plan was jointly developed by stakeholders from the human, animal and environmental sectors. 

It is confirmed that 75 per cent of emerging infectious diseases spread from animals to humans. To this end, health, environment and agriculture experts are using a OneHealth approach to tackle this. 

Over the last 5 years, Nigeria has witnessed catastrophic effects of zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, Lassa fever, Dengue, rabies, yellow fever and the recent COVID-19.

Against this backdrop, the NCDC, in collaboration with other ministries, departments and agencies, developed the five-year strategic and yearly implementation plan for One Health in Nigeria (2019-2023).

The NCDC boss said that, just like the recent monkeypox, the nation is constantly confronted with infectious diseases of animal origin, threatening public health, affecting human health negatively and leading to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians yearly.

“These diseases, also referred to as ‘zoonotic’ diseases – meaning their origin may be primarily traced to animals before transmission to humans,” he said. 

Adetifa re-emphasised the importance of Nigeria’s One Health Strategic Plan jointly developed with the department of veterinary and pest control services in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Environment, academia, development partners, the private sector as well as non-governmental organisations.

“This strategic document addresses some of the gaps identified in the joint external evaluation of Nigeria’s international health regulations core capacities.

“Most importantly, the plan reinforces the shared commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to enhance multi-sectoral collaborations in addressing public health challenges within the human-animal ecosystem.  

“If successfully implemented, the plan will advance the One Health cause in the country through its institutionalisation, address zoonotic diseases, enhance food safety and security, improve livelihoods of many Nigerians and keep Nigeria healthier and safer,” he explained. 

He said he did not doubt that the conference would effectively consolidate shared lessons and experiences of implementing One Health in the respective domains, especially in light of recent unprecedented zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19 and monkeypox. 

A consultant community physician and clinical epidemiologist with the University of Ibadan, Prof. Akindele Adebiyi, in his remarks said that the sustainability of the planet depends on the collaboration of the human, environmental and animal sectors. 

While speaking on the interconnection of global health security and One Health, Adebiyi stated that this aligns with the triple bottom approach of the sustainable development goals. 

“Surely, we’ve come a long way, from the year 2013 of developing an influenza preparedness plan to implementing a COVID-19 pandemic plan. 

“OneHealth provides a framework for a sustainable approach to addressing health security challenges,” he said. 

Similarly, the deputy director of surveillance, NCDC, Dr. Oyeladun Okunromade, who spoke on the overall coordination of health security and One Health in Nigeria, said that following recommendations from the joint external evaluation conducted in 2017, experts from the human, animal and environmental sectors convened to develop a One Health Strategic Plan launched in 2019.

“We prioritised zoonotic diseases of public health significance in Nigeria using the OneHealth approach. Current scientific data, however, require a reprioritisation of these zoonotic diseases in Nigeria.

“The JEE rated Nigeria’s health security capacity at 39 per cent in 2017. This improved to 46 per cent in the 2019 mid-term JEE to reflect Nigeria’s progress towards addressing identified gaps in One Health implementation,” she added. 

Racheal Abujah
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