BRIEF ON THE INCEPTION WORKSHOP ORGANIZED BY HERFON CONSORTIUM ON THE NIGERIA HEALTH SECURITY AGENDA.
It is a known fact that infectious disease outbreaks have the potential to threaten our collective health security and impact negatively on the economy of developing countries like Nigeria. The Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON) and its consortium partners, the Vaccine Network for Disease Control (VNDC) and the Gem Hum Initiative (GHI) are not in a hurry to forget the impact of the last pandemic in Nigeria and the need to better prepare for the next disease outbreaks as our county is faced with routine epidemic outbreaks including Lassa fever, measles, cholera, M-pox and Diphtheria etc.
With support from the African Health Budget Network (AHBN), our consortium held a workshop with key stakeholders to support the health security agenda in Nigeria on the 26th October, 2023 at Sandralia Hotel, Jabi Abuja.
The workshop titled "Strengthening Accountability for Health Security Finances and Vaccine Equitable Access in Nigeria" had the objectives of enhancing the capacity of CSOs and the media to advocate for improved accountability and transparency in the management of health security finances in Nigeria, equitable access to vaccines in the country, to improve government domestic resource mobilization for health security and advocate for local vaccine production in Nigeria.
Participants at the workshop included stakeholders from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) such as Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC), National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Health, Budget office of the federation and the FMoH among several others.
The workshop reviewed relevant documents on heath security including the NAPHS - 2018-22 and triggered robust discussions on strategies to strengthen health security in Nigeria.
Participants noted the fact that Nigeria as a signatory to International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) is doing relatively well with the management of vertical diseases such as polio, TB, and HIV/AIDS while recommending a strong need to strengthen horizontal disease surveillance and control in the country.
The Director General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa who was physically present at the workshop made a presentation on "Health Security Challenges and the Accountability Measures and Initiatives in Nigeria". According to the DG, about 60% of emerging diseases are caused by zoonotic infectious organisms exacerbated by climate change and migration which is leading to ecosystem interruption in favor of most disease vectors.
Dr Adetifa further said that Nigeria is currently at 54% score point on health security based on the just concluded Joint External Evaluation (JEE) held in August 2023 which is an improvement from the initial score point of 39% in 2017 when the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS - 2018-22) was developed. The DG gives kudos to a financed multi-sectoral plan for health security which has been helping to develop critical capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats. However, he re-iterated that there is still a lot to be done and called for the support of CSOs to improve health security agenda in Nigeria through supporting the agency to close the gaps identified at the recent JEE.