The Federal Ministry of Health has stressed on the need to strengthen health security architecture across all the states of the federation in preparedness for future pandemics.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire made the appeal at the opening ceremony of the National Council on Health (NCH) meeting which held in Abuja on Thursday December 2, 2021.
TheFact Nigeria observed that the country’s frail healthcare system recieved a level of resuscitation in the heat of the covid-19 pandemic because many of the leaders who hitherto patronised hospitals abroad were forced to use that of the country. The progress recorded however was reversed with the ease of travel restrictions.
Delivering his keynote address at the meeting, Ehanire stated that the NCH was the highest policy making organ in the health sector which provides a platform for Council members and stakeholders to consider and chart ways forward on health issues of national importance.
He disclosed that the meeting which was tagged “the Journey towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Applying lessons from COVID-19 pandemic to build a resilient health system” was organised to reflect the reality of the times and to emphasize the need for a resilient health system, agile and flexible enough to withstand the shocks and challenges of emerging and remerging disease outbreaks threatening the world.
Ehanire stated that even though gloomy predictions were made for Africa, including Nigeria, at the onset of the pandemic; the efforts and strategies put in place by the country to control it, yielded fruits.
The Health Boss emphasised the need to remain alert as new variants of the virus emerge and above all, cultivate proactive measures like local manufacturing of pharmaceuticals to bolster the country’s health system:
“And so whether it’s a Covid-19 variant or a new attack, we must strengthen our health security architecture to ensure we are prepared at all times to detect, and respond, in the interest of the health of our population.
“Covid-19 also brought a rude awakening of how totally import dependent we are when it comes to pharmaceuticals, vaccines and other critical commodities.
“The realization of the urgency of domestic manufacturing has never been so clear. Developing and supporting capacity to begin indigenous medical Industry is a national security issue, to not only protect our citizens but also mitigate capital flight derived from importation of all vaccines.
“The Federal Government is working with an indigenous private pharma company to make Nigeria a vaccine manufacturing hub for West Africa and beyond”, he said.
Ehanire further urged the participants to reflect critically on how to refocus, re-energise and reprogram the future of Health, ensuring lessons learnt from the COVID -19 pandemic response were leveraged to develop statutes, strategies and frameworks that deliver continuously improving quality of health to the country while building back better.
Participants at the meeting included: Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, WHO Nigeria country representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, Representatives of UNICEF, World Bank and USAID, Commissioners of health from the 36states of the Federation, Executive Director NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, Executive Secretary NHIS, Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo among others.