By Patience Omoha
Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director-General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) says the agency is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant organizations, to develop a robust national biosecurity policy before the end of 2021.
Ebegba made this known on Tuesday, in Abuja, at the second national review meeting of the draft National Biosecurity Policy and Action Plan.
While commending the WHO for supporting the agency from the outset, he noted that the Federal Government considered the issue of a national biosecurity policy as a major national assignment.
“We will (therefore) work with our partners to have a robust national biosecurity policy that would meet our national aspirations and also world standard.
“We are hoping that by the end of the year, it will become our national policy on biosecurity. We all owe this country a responsibility to ensure that this document comes out sound and meets international standards.
“The agency will meticulously ensure that the review process, under the Federal Ministry of Environment, will have the Federal Executive Council taking a critical look at it and taking a decision”, Ebegba said.
The Director General said that the issue of biosecurity had gone global, citing the outbreak of various diseases as a result of infectious organisms.
“The issue of biosecurity does not recognise boundaries. The world must stand together to ensure that infectious organisms are properly contained,” he further said.
Ebegba, therefore, urged stakeholders to see the national biosecurity policy as a major national assignment that would go a long way to minimize the risks of biological threats, improve human health, agriculture and environment.
The WHO had said it would support NBMA to complete its policy document on biosecurity that would set out guidelines for regulating chemicals used on biological organisms.
In his remark, Dr Philip Zorto, WHO representative, expressed the hope that before the end of the year, the policy document would be completed and presented to the Federal Executive Council.
Zorto urged stakeholders to work together to ensure the realisation of the ultimate goal of making the document a working one, so as to be internationally acceptable.
“So, all over the world, people from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and Agriculture, come together under one health approach to ensure that human beings are protected from all bio-threats and biohazards.
“WHO will continue to support the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure that the policy document is completed before the end of this year, and become a working document”, he said.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, represented by Mrs Bolanle Ajayi, while declaring the review meeting open, said the ministry was working in collaboration with NBMA to develop the policy that would meet global best practices.
“This is an achievement that will be credited to our collective consciousness to safeguard our ecosystem from threats arising from intentional or unintentional use of valuable biological materials,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary urged other development partners to join hands with NBMA, to ensure safe human health, agriculture and the environment. (NAN)