The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa has called for increased domestic budgetary allocation to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats in the country.
Dr Adetifa made the call on Monday, at the second Joint External Evaluation for the International Health Regulations Core Capacities which was held in Abuja.
Adetifa said dedicated funding for the implementation of health security will increase capacities in responding to public health threats.
Joint External Evaluation is a voluntary multi-sectoral process and one of the four components of the IHR monitoring and evaluation framework which involves a diverse team of experts, collectively evaluating a nation’s preparedness and response capacities across 19 technical areas, under the guidance of relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
Nigeria conducted its first JEE in 2017, and it is the first country in Africa to conduct the first and second JEE.
Speaking at the event, Adetifa said, “We need to prioritise health. Health goes beyond capital projects – buildings and facilities. You need the human capital, equipment, training, and quality systems. Once we get the political leadership to properly prioritise health, then health will receive more funding.
“I believe that some state governments are committing quite a bit of their own budget to health. What we need to see is to make that a groundswell; that even more states are doing that, and that the national government is doing that.
“I believe that with the agenda that has already been set by the new government led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, we will see more domestic funding to health. We expect to see more funding, especially with the identification of priorities from the JEE evaluation.”
The Country Director United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mary Boyd said the epidemics of the last two decades have made it clear that more needs to be done for countries to have the capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to public health emergencies.
“This is why the JEE is important. It encourages a collaborative approach and highlights the major achievements and gaps in our health security to guide our work for another five years. I want to congratulate Nigeria for taking the bold step to conduct this assessment. The US CDC has been with Nigeria since the first JEE in 2017.
“One of our many contributions to health security in Nigeria is the compilation and archival of documents from previous assessments to prepare for today. This effort is led by our partner RTI International and the NCDC. I want to encourage everyone present here to keep up the good work and not relent but also take some time to celebrate the small wins. While we have high hopes, all scores are important- whether high or low. The important thing is what we need to work on because we’re in it together.”
On his part, the senior Adviser of the World Health Organisation Global JEE Secretariat, Dr Henk Ormel, said ensuring health security in Africa will prevent outbreaks of diseases.
He said, “The JEE process was developed to help countries assess their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats. The process is to identify the most critical gaps for health security using a multi-sectoral approach. The JEE is to gather data to evaluate the implementation of the International Health Regulations.
“Each JEE follows a standardized process that aligns to the principles of transparency, multi-sectoral engagement and public reporting. The JEE is voluntary, a one health multidisciplinary evaluation.”
He, however, noted that the JEE is not an audit or inspection, but it sifts through available information to develop priority actions and scores.