Nigeria’s Health Minister of State Addresses World Health Body

By A.O. Adesugba (Mrs.)
The Minister of State for Health, Engr. Fidelis Nwankwo, addressed delegates on the first day of the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly holding in Geneva, Switzerland from 18 to 26 May 2015. The Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of the World Health Organization WHO.

Engr. Nwankwo used the opportunity to appreciate the WHO and its leadership for its work and especially for its handling of the various global health challenges. He observed that the efforts of the World Health Organization are in line with Nigeria’s own national goals and objectives.

The Minister informed the Assembly that the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which was established in 2012 has been expanded and strengthened to provide infrastructure and capacity to respond to public health threats. He said that it was Nigeria’s expectation that the Centre can be further adapted to serve as one of the hubs of the African Centres for Disease Control that will provide the requisite system that can respond to any threats to public health in the African region.

The Minister used the occasion to highlight some of Nigeria’s achievements in the health sector, recalling that although Nigeria was one of the countries that was affected by the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, it was however, the first country to be certified EVD free by the World Health Organization on October 20, 2014.

He maintained that the success the country recorded in containing the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak remains “a remarkable feat,” pointing out that political leadership, a command and control structure, multi-sectorial engagement and support of development partners were all critical to Nigeria’s success.

He noted that Nigeria extended similar solidarity and support to its neighbours who were contending with the Ebola epidemic by sending over 250 volunteers to Liberia and Sierra Leone, which he observed, was the largest contingent of the African Union mission to help support Ebola containment efforts.

The Minister of State informed the Assembly that although Nigeria has been certified Ebola free, it is not resting on its oars but rather, it is maintaining up-most vigilance, has stepped up research into the disease and is implementing a Post Ebola Containment Plan.

The Ebola Virus Disease was a reoccurring topic highlighted by a majority of speakers during the Assembly including the Guest Speaker of the occasion, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Director General of the World Health Organization, WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan. According to Dr. Chan “The Ebola outbreak shook this Organization to its core.”

The Minister further used the occasion to highlight Nigeria’s unprecedented progress in curbing the scourge of poliomyelitis, noting that the country has successfully interrupted polio transmission in the last ten months. While calling on partners and the world health body to continue to support Nigeria’s efforts, he assured that Nigeria would continue to sustain it intervention, vigilance and surveillance efforts with deep commitment.

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