Nigeria and Japan on Tuesday in Abuja signed a $14.2 million aid project to strengthen the diagnostic capacity of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
The signing was done by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma for Nigeria and the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Yukata Kikuta for Japan. It was witnessed by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewale.
The total project cost is put at about JPY 1.58 billion (Japanese Yen), which is an equivalent of $14.2 million.
Mr Udoma said the project was in line with the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which has ‘investing in our people’ as one of the three broad objectives.
“Under the ERGP, we are committed to improving the accessibility, affordability and quality of healthcare. We are therefore appreciative of the Japanese Government for supporting this project which is directed at improving healthcare in Nigeria,” Mr Udoma quoted as saying.
Nigeria, like many other African countries, he said, has had outbreaks of infectious diseases from time to time.
He said the Nigerian Government was determined to address emerging public health threats whenever they may occur.
Given the limited resources that the country has, he said Nigerians appreciate the support by the Government of Japan to improve and strengthen the work of the NCDC.
He reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to achieving sustainable economic development as set out in the ERGP and was appreciative of the support the country continues to receive from the Japanese government.
Mr Adewale acknowledged this would not be the first time the Japanese Government would be intervening in critical sectors in Nigeria.
He expressed the hope that the new project will enlarge the capacity of the NCDC to diagnose and treat serious cases.
“The health sector is grateful to Japan for this gesture,” he added.
The Japanese Ambassador, Mr Kikuta, said Japan has over the years built and maintained a consistent partnership with Nigeria towards strengthening and improving Nigeria’s health sector.
According to him, it is a common fact that access to health systems is a key to improving the quality of life of people and promoting a country’s development.
The envoy said NCDC, which plays an essential role in controlling infectious diseases, suffers from a shortage of containment facilities and instruments required for the safe, rapid and accurate handling of infectious diseases.
He observed that the health sector in Nigeria is vulnerable, while its ability to deliver services is limited.
“In order to take domestic and international countermeasures against infectious diseases specified in the national health policy from now on, it is necessary to expand the building facility and equipment to strengthen the capacity for diagnosis and research of NCDC,” he said.
In recent weeks, a Lassa outbreak has rocked many parts of the nation, claiming casualties.