Nigeria is leading the way in Africa in health innovation and pandemic preparedness on the continent.
Dr Jean Kaseya, the Director-General of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made this known during a visit to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention(NCDC), on Wednesday at the headquarters, in Abuja.
Kaseya was accompanied by the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammed Pate.
He said that through this visit, the Africa CDC aimed to strengthen collaborations and partnerships, share expertise, and shape a healthier future for the country, region and on the continent.
He acknowledged the role played by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in choosing Pate, for its clear agenda and leadership in healthcare across the world.
He emphasised the immense responsibility that comes with being in a position of leadership in the country, stating that it not only affects the country but also the entire continent.
He highlighted the importance of regular consultations with the minister, even on matters unrelated to the country or Africa, as it was crucial to establish connections and gain support, aid, guidance, and information.
He expressed pride in the accomplishments of Nigeria’s healthcare system, including NCDC and its widespread recognition.
He commended the efforts of individuals like Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization, whom he referred to as an ambassador for the country, and emphasised the need for continuous collaboration and support on the continent.
He stressed the urgency of pandemic prevention and response, citing evidence of new outbreaks occurring on the continent.
He pointed out that 70 per cent of these outbreaks were zoonotic, highlighting the importance of a One Health Approach that involves multiple ministries working together.
He praised countries like Botswana for elevating the coordination mechanism on One Health to the Vice President level, suggesting that Nigeria should consider a similar approach.
Furthermore, he emphasised the need for African heroes to be celebrated and recognised.
He highlighted the discovery of the Omicron variant by an African scientist using equipment provided by African CDC.
He also praised Nigeria’s emergency operation centres and encouraged other countries to learn from Nigeria’s approach to avoid fragmentation.
He expressed support for the vision of local manufacturing and medical industrialization, emphasizing the need for Africa to be self-sufficient in meeting its healthcare needs.
He acknowledged the challenges of medical consumption and the need to develop programs that allow African countries to support one another.