After a lengthy two-day deliberation, the 2021 National Council on Health (NCH) conference concluded Friday with a resolve for a deliberate investment on Nigeria’s health security starting with drawing support for pharmaceutical and research agencies to produce locally developed vaccines.
The annual event, which came amid rising concerns over the detection of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus in Nigeria, centred on Nigeria’s fight against the pandemic, lessons learnt and the way forward for the prevention of infectious diseases in the country.
Organised by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and held both virtually and physically in in the Federal Capital Territory between Thursday and Friday, the theme of this year’s NCH meeting was “The Journey to Attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Applying Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic Towards Building A Resilient National Health System.”
While Nigeria, like most African countries, has not suffered from the worst effects of the pandemic unlike its European and American counterparts, the country hasn’t been entirely free of the socio-economic challenges associated with the pandemic.
Global health security aims to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. In practice, this is limited to specific activities, including strengthening surveillance systems and improving risk communication.
But health officials and experts at the event opined that global health security alone simply is not enough.
They said the experience with COVID-19 suggests that hyper-focusing on infectious disease control often derails targets and priorities on other health challenges such as HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis, noting that the Nigerian health system is chronically underfunded, disjointed, and inequitable.