The United Kingdom and Nigeria have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to strengthen health security in Nigeria.
The Public Health England(PHE), which is the UK national public health institute, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC), signed the agreement for both countries, a statement signed by Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, on behalf of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and Professor Duncan Selbie, for Public Health England, made available to The Neighbourhood has said.
The statement explained that the IHR strengthening programme in Nigeria is part of a £16 million project funded by the UK Department of Health, to support the capacities of national public health institutes in five countries. It further stated that in Nigeria, the project would focus on the key pillars within the mandate of NCDC, including disease surveillance, emergency preparedness and response, public health laboratory services as well as workforce development.
At the signing event in Abuja, the IHR strengthening programme was formally launched by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Paul Arkwright, who in his remarks, emphasised the need for strong collaboration between national public health institutions, in ensuring global health security. “The United Kingdom recognizes that we must work closely with other countries in our efforts to build strong and resilient health systems globally. The partnership between PHE and NCDC would contribute to ensuring the world is much safer and less vulnerable from the threat of infectious diseases” Mr. Arkwright said.
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of PHE, said that the recent cases of monkey pox in the United Kingdom highlighted the ease of movement of infectious diseases and reinforced the need to strengthen national public health institutes globally.
“The IHR strengthening project is very much a partnership and invaluable opportunity for both countries to learn from each other. By working together and sharing expertise, both countries become stronger and that is our joint ultimate aim”, Selbie added.
In his address, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, NCDC CEO, stated that the implementation of the IHR strengthening programme in Nigeria will be coordinated by NCDC. The NCDC will work with PHE to provide dedicated staff time and adoption of a multi-sectoral collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Environment, and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, other relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs); as well as partner organizations, he added.
“We are grateful for this opportunity which formalises and strengthens the existing relationship between NCDC and PHE. We look forward to building on this co-operation, for national and global health security” Dr. Ihekweazu said.
Since the program began in 2017, PHE has supported NCDC in the development of its National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS), training of staff from the National Reference Laboratory and the network of public health laboratories on enteric pathogen testing, development and strengthening of protocols for NCDC’s incident management system and several other project areas.