‘Senate to pass bill establishing Nigeria disease centre before end of 2017’

Nigerian Senate Chambers
Nigerian Senate Chamber used to illustrate the story.

A bill for an Act to establish the National Centre for Disease and Control, NCDC, will be passed by the National Assembly before the end of the year, the Chairman, Senate committee on primary health care and communicable diseases, Mao Ohuabunwa, has said.

The senator said this in Abuja on Tuesday at the launch of the NCDC Strategy and Implementation Plan (2017-2021).

The launch of the five-year plan is aimed at incorporating a new vision and mission to guide the activities of the agency and assist in proper disease surveillance, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of intervention plans, PREMIUM TIMES understands.

In attendance at the launch were health partners from the ministry of health; World health Organisation, WHO; West African Health Organization, WAHO; USAID, ministry of agriculture and rural development, and others working in Nigeria on disease outbreak intervention and control.

Mr. Ohuabunwa said the Senate was committed to the development of the health sector adding that this is why it created a committee for primary healthcare and communicable disease instead of, ”just maintaining the status quo.”

He assured the agency of the Senate’s support in achieving success in its plans for the prevention and control of diseases in the country.

“With the prevalence of disease outbreak in Nigeria, we are geared and ready to collaborate with NCDC to ensure that we can achieve the universal health care coverage, or health for all in 2020. We mean it when we say the establishment of an institution of NCDC is important and we are legalising it.

“Work is in progress on the bill and before the end of the year, the bill it will be ‘legalised.’ This year, we have resolved to support NCDC, National Agency for Control of AIDS, NACA and primary health care because of the prevalence of disease outbreaks across the country.

That is why we have resolved to implement the National Health Act 2014. We will establish it to implement the basic Universal Health Care, UHC law which stipulates clearly that 1 per cent of the consolidated revenue should be dedicated to health,” he added.

The WHO country representative, Wondimagegnehu Alemu, in his own remarks, commended the previous effort of the agency especially its intervention and prompt coordination of staff and support partners during emergencies.

Alemu, while re-pledging the support of the international health agency to assist in the fight against disease intervention said the presentation of the plan will strengthen the emergency response of the country and as well assist the health partners to collaborate better.

“There are lots of diseases’ outbreaks and Africa has the largest of these challenges. It is commendable that NCDC is taking this initiative knowing the impact of their activities and response during the Ebola crisis, and an established national disease centre will ensure that there is a central response coordination for the country and Africa.”

The Chief Executive Officer/National Coordinator, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu while presenting the plan said it became necessary for the agency to have a working plan in other to know, ”what needs to be done to strengthen the disease surveillance and coordination in the country.”

“We cannot work on fighting and preventing disease outbreak alone without collaboration with others because the health security in one geographical location is based on the health security in another geographical location all around the world.

”Every country needs to have a plan that is their own. A vision of their own on how disease control for the country to work before getting other partners to join in. That is why we started activities in late 2016 to develop a 2017–2021 strategic plan, incorporating a new vision and mission to guide activities,” he said.

He explained that the 2017-2021 strategic plan seeks to create, ”a strong vision for the NCDC supported by well-articulated implementation and delivery plans.”

Mr. Ihekweazu said, ”no plan is worth the paper it is written on without the people to help work on it and implement.”

He also said the agency was poised to give health structures, Nigerians and the world can have confidence in.

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Ayodamola Owoseye is a senior reporter covering the health beat for PREMIUM TIMES.  She is a graduate of the University of Ibadan, and holds a B.A in Anthropology and M.Sc in Information Science.

Ayodamola advocates gender equity and loves travelling and listening to old skool music. Twitter: @damolaowoseye

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