Stakeholders from the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), a multidisciplinary team of experts, on Monday assessed the country’s preparedness and response capabilities across 19 technical areas in Ministries, Departments and Agencies, to detect, prevent and respond to infectious diseases in the country.
During the event in Abuja, the Regional Technical Coordinator, African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Dr Patrick Nguku, said the country had established a robust disease surveillance system to detect, prevent and respond to disease outbreaks promptly.
Nguku, who is also a Senior Resident Advisor at Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programmes, said that this included monitoring diseases at the community level, strengthening laboratory capacity and improving data collection and reporting.
He said that the Nigerian Government had developed emergency preparedness plans and response strategies to address health emergencies effectively.
“This involves training healthcare workers, establishing emergency response teams, and stockpiling essential medical supplies,” he said.
He said that the epidemic did not read the scores, noting that COVID-19 was an experience which laid bare the gaps in the country’s national health security, even where the scores were good.
He said that the JEE would provide the opportunity for the country to go back to the drawing board.
Dr Farrah Hussein, the representative of the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC), said a lot had happened since the last JEE and this came alongside several lessons learnt.
Hussein said that USCDC looked forward to incorporating those lessons in JEE to enable the country to be better prepared for any future public health emergencies as a country.
The Emergency Preparedness and Response, WHO, Dr Mie Okamura, said since the establishment of JEE as one of the International Health Regulations (IHR) tjat monitored and evaluated frameworks, WHO had remained committed to supporting its implementation across countries, including Nigeria.
Dr Michael Olugbile, Senior Health Specialist, World Bank, said that World Bank was very pleased to see the progress that had been made so far within the country.
Olugbile said after the JEE, the World Bank would look forward to seeing how far the country had come in its national health security, identifying gaps and making recommendations to address challenges.
Dr Olusola Aruna, representative, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said UKHSA had been part of the journey since the country’s JEE in 2017.
“We implore colleagues to be objective in all our deliberations as we work together to assess our core capacities.
Earlier, the Director-General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, said that the country must remain steadfast in the journey of transforming its health security.
Adetifa said that with unity, the country would forge ahead, transforming challenges into opportunities and safeguarding the health and well-being of every Nigerian.
He said that JEE was an essential tool that provided an unbiased and comprehensive assessment of the nation’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to health threats.
The International Health Regulations (2005) is a legally binding framework that requires all World Health Organization (WHO) member countries to develop and maintain their capacity to prevent, detect, assess and respond to public health risks and emergencies.
Nigeria conducted its first Joint External Evaluation (JEE) in June 2017, using the JEE 1.0 tool.
Based on the conventional requirement by the World Health Assembly for countries to conduct JEE five-yearly, the country is due for another JEE. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Idris Abdulrahman