By Abujah Racheal
Abuja – The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has expressed satisfaction with the midterm Joint External Evaluation (JEE) having over 46 per cent increase on Nigeria’s capacity to tackle public health threats.
Ehanire made the remark at the presentation of evaluation conducted for Nigeria in 2019, organised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on Friday in Abuja.
According to him, the 2019 midterm Joint External Evaluation (JEE), has risen from its position of 39 per cent in the 2017 evaluation to over 46 per cent this year.
“With the review of Nigeria’s International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats, a new average JEE score of 46 per cent for Nigeria has been announced.
“This is a 7 per cent increase from the 2017 score of 39 per cent.
“In 2017, Nigeria conducted a JEE of her IHR capacities. These regulations are global standards of countries’ preparedness to tackle public health threats.
“This was coordinated by the NCDC as the IHR National Focal Point, with close involvement of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) whose functions are related to national health security.
“Two years after the first JEE, a mid-term assessment has been carried out to review progress and gaps since 2017, as well as priorities towards improving national health security,” he said.
Ehanire said that the initial Nigeria JEE provided the opportunity for the development of a baseline.
The minister said that it had also promoted the spirit of OneHealth and collaboration across sectors, an indication that the country had the capacity to protect the health of its citizens.
Ehanire said that he had encouraged NCDC and other agencies to see the exercise as a voluntary peer-review activity to assess where the country currently stood.
“Guided by the JEE tool, we shall also be better guided for implementation of the WorldBank REDISSE project which is supporting activities in both the human and animal sectors, in the spirit of OneHealth,” he said.
The minister said he was impressed with the leadership of NCDC in its implementation of the International Health Regulation in Nigeria.
He said that the NCDC would continue to enjoy the ministry’s support in carrying out its mandate of preventing, detecting and responding to diseases of public health importance.
NCDC’s Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the organisation had used the evaluation process to review its progress and develop benchmark activities to close existing gaps.
Ihekweazu said that Nigeria was the first country in the world to conduct the exercise since the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation of five-year interval.
“Over the last four days, leads from the 19 technical areas have reviewed and presented their current capacity, using the JEE 2.0 tool.
“We are scoring ourselves against higher standards as WHO has improved the JEE tool with more stringent indicators,” he said.
The NCDC Chief said that Centre remained grateful for another opportunity to work with stakeholders and partners.
Ihekweazu said that it was important to strengthen the NCDC multi-sectoral collaboration for Nigerians’ health security.
The WHO Officer in Charge, Dr Clement Peter, said that Nigeria had made great progress, which he linked to the strong partnerships and increasing multi-sectoral approach employed.
Peter said that more needed to be done to attain full capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats in the country.
The WHO official also called for more contributions from the Federal and State Governments, as well as partners for Nigeria to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.